Prime minister criticizes U.S. over attack on Shiite militia stronghold info
10 die in suicide attack
Media:The Associated Press
Byline:By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA
Date:08 August 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq_Iraq's prime minister sharply criticized a U.S.-Iraqi attack
on a Shiite militia stronghold in Baghdad, breaking with his American
partners on security tactics as the United States launches a major operation
to secure the capital.
More than 30 people were killed or found dead Monday, including 10
paramilitary commandos slain when a suicide driver detonated a truck at the
regional headquarters of the Shiite-led Interior Ministry police in a mostly
Sunni city north of Baghdad.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's criticism followed a pre-dawn air and
ground attack on an area of Sadr City, stronghold of 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."
One U.S. soldier was wounded, the U.S. said.
The military said early Tuesday that an American soldier died Sunday of
wounds suffered in action in Anbar province west of Baghdad. No further
details were released, including when the fighting occurred.
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
Friction between the U.S. military and the Iraqi government emerged as the
U.S. military kicks off a military operation to secure Baghdad streets after
a surge in Sunni-Shiite violence _ much of it blamed on al-Sadr's militia.
Al-Sadr has emerged as a major figure in the majority Shiite community and a
pillar of support for al-Maliki. The prime minister's remarks underscore the
difficulties facing the Americans in bringing order to Baghdad at a time
when Iraqis are increasingly resentful of the presence of foreign troops.
U.S. officials are equally frustrated by the slow pace of reconciliation and
what they feel is the reluctance of politicians to reach consensus among
Iraq's religious and ethnic groups on the future of the nation.
After the Sadr City attack, 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.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, 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."
Casey said he hoped the new operation would "change the situation
significantly prior to Ramadan," which begins in late September.
"To do that, it will take the cooperation not only between the Iraqi
security forces and the coalition but with all of the people in Baghdad
working together to combat terrorism," Casey said. "All the security
operations are designed to protect the population. And if the people of
Baghdad can cooperate with the security forces, that can happen very
But the public position taken by al-Maliki and Talabani signaled 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.
U.S. officials have spoken of morale problems in senior ranks of the Iraqi
security services because of what they believe is insufficient political
support by the country's divided civilian leadership.
The suicide attack in Samarra targeted the regional headquarters of Interior
Ministry's elite commando force, a heavily Shiite organization which many
Sunnis have accused of human rights abuses against Sunni civilians.
The blast heavily damaged the two-story building as well as three nearby
houses, said policeman Mohammed Ali, who escorted an ambulance to the scene.
Samarra, 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Baghdad, was the site of the
February bombing of a Shiite shrine that set off the wave of tit-for-tat
sectarian killings and kidnappings that have pushed the country to the brink
of civil war.
In other violence Monday, five people were killed and six others wounded
when a roadside bomb exploded near their minivan near Khalis, about 45 miles
(70 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, police said.
One person was killed when truck bomb went off in Khan Bani Saad, 24 miles
(40 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, police said.
Bodies of nine people were brought to the regional morgue in Kut, police and
health officials said. Seven of the nine bodies were Iraqi soldiers.
Other victims included five men shot dead in a Baghdad barbershop and four
insurgents killed by U.S. troops west of Baghdad, police and U.S. officials