At Least 25 Die in Violence Around Iraq
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ A suicide bomber rammed a police checkpoint in northern Iraq with an explosives-laden vehicle Saturday, killing 14 people, including some who died when their homes collapsed in the blast.
The suicide bombing in Tal Afar _ a city cited by President Bush earlier this year as an example of improving security in Iraq _ was the deadliest attack on a day when more than two dozen people died in violence around the country.
Four policemen and 10 civilians were killed when the vehicle detonated after speeding into the checkpoint, police Brig. Sabah al-Maamari said. Some of the victims died when parts of nearby homes collapsed from the force of the blast in the city about 30 miles from the Syrian border.
Separately, more victims of Iraq’s Shiite-Sunni violence were found, with seven bullet-riddled bodies in Baghdad, where U.S. and Iraqi troops have been trying for more than a month to put down sectarian killings in intensified neighborhood-by-neighborhood sweeps.
One American soldier with the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, died Friday near Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, the military said Saturday. No other details were given.
In the city of Mosul, gunmen killed a woman who was walking with her 5-year-old son, Mosul police Col. Abdel-Karim al-Jubouri said. The boy was not harmed, he said.
The U.S. military had predicted a spike in violence with the onset of Ramadan two weeks ago _ something that the chief U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said had been borne out.
``Unfortunately, as expected, attacks have steadily increased in Baghdad during these past weeks,″ he said Wednesday, adding that the number of car bombs found and cleared were at an all-time high.
Authorities extended indefinitely a regular Friday ban on all pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the northern city of Kirkuk, which has been hit by a wave of violence recently. A series of six bombings there on Sept. 17 killed 24 people and wounded 84.
Some 2,000 police and Iraqi soldiers used the curfew to conduct a series of raids, arresting 150 suspected insurgents, Police Lt. Gen. Sherko Shaker said.
Two bodies were fished out of the Tigris River in downtown Baghdad on Saturday, said police Lt. Bilal Ali Majid. Both had their hands and legs bound and showed signs of torture _ hallmarks of the sectarian death squads that roam the capital.
Later in the southeastern suburbs of the capital, the bodies of five more people who had been shot and handcuffed were discovered, police Cap. Mahir Hamad Mousa said.
Two workers at a Shiite-run bakery in Baghdad’s Mansour district were killed by unknown gunmen in the early afternoon, said police Lt. Maitham Abdel Razzaq. The gunmen got out of their car, sprayed the bakery with bullets _ injuring a third person _ and then drove away, he said.
On Friday night, gunmen killed a 37-year-old former Iraqi national volleyball player, said Saif al-Maliki, a member of the union of Iraqi sports journalists. Naseer Shamil, a Shiite, was killed in his shop in Baghdad, al-Maliki said.
The United States has put increasing pressure on the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take action to stop sectarian violence amid deep divisions within his Cabinet. Sunnis complain al-Maliki is hesitant to take tough action against Shiite militias because many of them are linked to parties he relies on.
In a joint statement, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Gen. George W. Casey, the top American military commander in the country, pledged to help the government find those behind Thursday’s killing of a Kurdish lawmaker.
Mohammed Ridha Mahmoud and his driver were seized and killed after they left the northeast Baghdad offices of a government agency that oversees Sunni mosques. A Sunni Kurdish party blamed the attack on Shiite militias.
``The terrorists who carried out this attack are the enemies of the Iraqi people, desperate to derail the progress Iraq is making toward freedom and prosperity,″ Casey and Khalilzad said.
In two raids in the province of Diyala, an increasingly violent region north of Baghdad, Iraqi forces killed two al-Qaida suspects and captured 40, said Brig. Qassim al-Mussawi, spokesman for the the prime minister’s military office.
Five insurgents were captured in a joint U.S-Iraqi operation in Mahaweel, 35 miles south of Baghdad, said police Capt. Muthana Khalid. Eight other suspected insurgents were seized in an Iraqi army raid in Saba al-Bor, also south of Baghdad, Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. command said it had captured 28 suspected terrorists in a raids Tuesday in southeastern Baghdad. The military said one of three ``high-value″ suspects captured was alleged to be responsible for killings and attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces.