AP: A slew of car and roadside bombs killed more than 30 people in Iraq on Monday, a day after a tribal chief who challenged Iraq’s most feared terrorist and sent fighters to help U.S. troops battle al-Qaida in western Iraq was gunned down.
By BUSHRA JUHI
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – A slew of car and roadside bombs killed more than 30 people in Iraq on Monday, a day after a tribal chief who challenged Iraq’s most feared terrorist and sent fighters to help U.S. troops battle al-Qaida in western Iraq was gunned down.
The explosions began just after dawn with a roadside bomb that killed 10 Iraqis who worked for an organization of Iranian dissidents living in Iraq. The blast targeted a public bus near Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province, an area notorious for such attacks. Twelve people were wounded, police said.
All the dead were Iraqi employees heading to the main camp of the Mujahedeen Khalq, which opposes Iran’s regime, the group said.
A car bomb placed near Baghdad’s main Sunni Abu Hanifa mosque killed at least nine Iraqis and wounded 25, police said. The bomb exploded at noon in north Baghdad’s Azamiyah neighborhood and was so powerful it vaporized the vehicle. Rescue crews and Iraqi army soldiers carried people on stretchers to ambulances, AP Television News footage showed.
Another bomb planted in a parked minivan killed at least seven and wounded 20 at the entrance to an open-air market selling clothes in the northern Baghdad suburb of Kazimiyah, police said.
A parked car exploded near Ibin al-Haitham college in Azamiyah, also in northern Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding at least five, including four Iraqi soldiers, police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said.
In Baghdad’s Tahariyat Square, a car bomb targeting an American convoy killed one civilian and wounded nine, police Lt. Col. Abbas Mohammed Salman said. It was not known if there were any U.S. casualties, but at least one Humvee was seen on fire.
A second bomb targeting an Iraqi police patrol near the square killed one person and wounded 10, including four police.
Elsewhere, a roadside bomb killed two police officers and wounded three others in downtown Baghdad’s Karradah district, while one man was killed and six were injured when a bomb hidden in a minivan exploded.
The blast in Diyala pushed in the side of the white public bus and peppered its blackened side with shrapnel holes. The bus, later inspected by U.S. Army troops, was streaked in blood.
“We were transporting the workers from Baqouba to the Mujahedeen Khalq when the roadside bomb exploded and killed all these people,” one man who was on the bus told APTN.
In other violence, gunmen killed two police officers when they attacked a convoy in western Baghdad. Another group seriously wounded police colonels in nearby Ghazaliyah. Two other police officers, identified as former Baathists, were killed in Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad.
A roadside bomb killed two British soldiers in the southern Iraqi city of Basra and injured two others, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Monday.
The explosion occurred Sunday night, a day after British and Iraqi forces seized their largest-ever haul of bomb-making equipment and weapons in a bid to improve the deteriorating security situation in the southern Iraqi city, the ministry said.
Also late Sunday, a tribal chief who challenged Iraq’s most feared terrorist and sent fighters to help U.S. troops battle al-Qaida in western Iraq died in a hail of bullets – the latest victim of an apparent insurgent campaign against Sunni Arabs who work with Americans.
Sheik Osama al-Jadaan was ambushed by gunmen as he was being driven in Baghdad’s Mansour district, a predominantly Sunni Arab area. Al-Jadaan’s driver and one of his bodyguards also were killed, police Lt. Maitham Abdul Razzaq said.
Al-Jadaan was a leader of the Karabila tribe, which has thousands of members in Anbar province, an insurgent hotbed stretching from west of Baghdad to the Syrian border. He had announced an agreement with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government to help security forces track down al-Qaida members and foreign fighters.
Meanwhile, the country’s parliament met Monday to discuss the tenuous security situation.
U.S. officials hope Iraqis will be able to take on more security duties soon, allowing American forces to begin pulling out. But a week after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s unity government took office, Iraq’s ethnic, sectarian and secular parties are struggling to agree on who should run the crucial interior and defense ministries, which control the various Iraqi security forces.
The impasse dashed hopes that al-Maliki, a member of Iraq’s Shiite majority, could swear in the two new ministers when the 275-member parliament convened Sunday after a four-day recess.
Al-Maliki’s spokesman, Yassin Majid, said if negotiations took much longer, the prime minister would ask the political blocs to present three names for each ministry so he could decide.
“There is no deadline for that, but it could happen this week,” Majid said.
Hassan al-Sineid, a Shiite legislator who belongs to al-Maliki’s Dawa Party, said that step might come by Wednesday.
The Shiite-dominated interior ministry, which controls the police forces, has been promised to that community. Sunni Arabs are to get the defense ministry, overseeing the army.
It is hoped the balance will enable al-Maliki to move ahead with a plan for Iraqis to take on all security duties over the next 18 months. He wants to try to attract army recruits from among the Sunni Arab minority, which provides the core of the insurgency.