Worst violence since US pullback

2009-07-09 22:12
Baghdad - Bombings killed more than 40 people in Iraq on Thursday in the worst violence since US combat troops withdrew from urban areas last week, and American forces released five Iranian officials suspected of aiding Shi'ite insurgents.

US officials said they believe the Iranians, detained in northern Iraq in January 2007, had facilitated attacks on American-led forces but handed them over to the Iraqi government at its request. Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said it was a "good initiative" that could encourage dialogue between Washington and Tehran, which are longtime foes.

In a statement on his website, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani condemned the attacks and said the "forces of evil and terrorism" were trying in vain to demoralise Iraqi security forces and the civilian population.

Some 130 000 US troops remain in Iraq, but they have a much lower profile and are preparing for a complete pullout by the end of 2011. Iraqi attitudes are mixed, with some rejoicing over the absence of American troops in their streets and a new sense of sovereignty, and others worried that extremists will now have more freedom to operate.

The day's violence began at 06:30, when a suicide bomber in a police uniform and carrying a radio and a pistol knocked on the door of an investigator in the anti-terrorism police force in the northern city of Tal Afar. When the officer opened the door, the bomber detonated his explosive belt, killing the officer, his wife and son, said Maj Gen Khalid al-Hamadani, police chief of the northern Ninevah province.

As people gathered in the aftermath, another suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt, al-Hamadani said. The co-ordinated attack killed a total of 34 people and injured 70. Army Brig Abdul-Rahman Abu Raghef said the first suicide bomber was a local resident who had been jailed for one year on suspicion of terrorism, but was released in an amnesty in June.

A day earlier, car bombs in two Shi'ite villages near Mosul, another northern Iraqi city, killed 16 civilians and injured more than two dozen.

Insurgents also struck Baghdad on Thursday morning, detonating roadside bombs that killed nine people and injured dozens. Six of them died and 31 were injured in co-ordinated blasts near an outdoor market in the Shi'ite district of Sadr City, said Maj Gen Qassim al-Mousawi, spokesperson for the city's operations command centre.

In the Karrada district of central Baghdad, one civilian died in a bomb attack on the convoy of Central Bank Gov Sinan al-Shibibi, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media. The governor was unharmed.


Read more on:    iran  |  iraq bombings

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