24 Killed in Iraqi Bombings, Shooting
24 Killed in Iraqi Bombings, Shooting
Aug. 08, 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq's prime minister sharply criticized a U.S.-Iraqi attack on a Shiite militia stronghold in Baghdad, exposing a rift with his American partners on security tactics, as 24 people were killed Tuesday in a series of bombings and a shooting.
An American soldier also died of wounds sustained in fighting in western Anbar province, the U.S. military said Tuesday.
The latest violence _ in addition to the 10 killed in a suicide bombing in Samarra on Monday _ occurred amid a major U.S. operation to secure Baghdad in order to control Shiite-Sunni sectarian bloodshed that many fear will lead to civil war.
The U.S.-Iraqi air and ground attack was launched before dawn Monday in Sadr City, which is controlled by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia. Police said three people, including a woman and a child, were killed in the raid, which the U.S. command said was aimed at ``individuals involved in punishment and torture cell activities.''
Three people were captured, the U.S. military said.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, said he was ``very angered and pained'' by the operation, warning that it could undermine his efforts toward national reconciliation.
``Reconciliation cannot go hand-in-hand with operations that violate the rights of citizens this way,'' al-Maliki said in a statement on government television. ``This operation used weapons that are unreasonable to detain someone _ like using planes.''
He apologized to the Iraqi people for the operation and said ``this won't happen again.''
Hours after he spoke, central Baghdad was shaken early Tuesday by three near-simultaneous bomb explosions near the Interior Ministry building in the Al-Nahda neighborhood. Ten civilians were killed and eight people were injured, said police Lt. Bilal Ali Majid.
A few hours later, two roadside bombs exploded within minutes of each other in the main Shurja market in central Baghdad, killing 10 people and injuring 50, said police Lt. Mohammed Kheyoun.
At about the same time, gunmen stormed a bank in Baghdad and killed two guards and a customer. They drove away with an unknown amount of money, said police Sgt. Zakariya Hassan. Also Tuesday, two roadside bombs in Tikrit north of Baghdad killed a policeman, said police Capt. Laith Hamid.
Overnight, nine bullet-riddled bodies were found in Kut south of Baghdad, and four Shiites were shot dead by gunmen in Baqouba, northeast of the capital.
On Monday, President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, met with the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., to discuss security operations in Baghdad. Talabani said he told Casey ``it is in no one's interest to have a confrontation'' with al-Sadr's movement.
The public positions taken by al-Maliki and Talabani signal serious differences between Iraqi politicians and both U.S. and Iraqi military officials on how to restore order and deal with armed groups, many of which have links to political parties.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Casey made no mention of al-Sadr but said he had discussed plans with Talabani to bring ``fundamental change to the security situation in Baghdad'' before Ramadan, which begins in late September.
Al-Sadr has risen to become a major figure in the Shiite community and a pillar of support for al-Maliki. The prime minister's apology and criticism of the U.S. forces may have helped placate al-Sadr, who on Monday urged his followers to show restraint.
In a statement read at all Mahdi Army offices, al-Sadr urged his militiamen to be ``calm and patient, and avoid being drawn into civil war,'' said the cleric's aide, Mohammed al-Fartousi.
He said al-Sadr urged the militiamen to purge all those who bring the Mahdi Army into disrepute. They should also ``denounce the kidnapping of Iraqis, denounce destruction of mosques and denounce killing of innocent people,'' said his aide, Mohammed al-Fartousi.
Associated Press correspondents Rawya Rageh, Qais al-Bashir and Bushra Juhi contributed to this report.