Al-Qaida in Iraq threatens to attack foreign missions in Iraq
By SAMEER N. YACOUB - Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - (AP) Sunni-led insurgents killed 11 Iraqi
security forces and wounded 14 in two separate attacks on Friday, as Shiites
began celebrating a major Muslim holiday. Al-Qaida in Iraq threatened more
attacks on diplomats here.
Also Friday, the U.S. military said it killed five senior al-Qaida
in Iraq figures during an airstrike last Saturday in Husaybah near the
Syrian border. The five, including at least one North African, were
responsible for bombings of U.S. and Iraqi forces, the announcement said.
Friday's worst attack by insurgents occurred at an Iraqi police
checkpoint in Buhriz, 55 kilometers (35 miles) north of Baghdad.
The militants fired mortar rounds, then arrived in eight cars and
opened fire, a police officer said. At least six policemen were killed and
10 wounded in the ensuing gunbattle, and it was not immediately known if any
militants were hurt, the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity
out of concern for his own safety.
In the town of Tuz Khormato, 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of
Baghdad, a roadside bomb hit an Iraqi convoy, killing five police commandos
working with Iraq's Interior Ministry and wounding four others, said police
Brig. Sarhad Qadir.
On the outskirts of the capital, near the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib
detention center, insurgents fired a mortar round that missed an American
base but hit a village home, killing a child and wounding the mother and
another one of her children, said police 1st Lt. Ahmed Ali.
Suspected insurgents also shot and killed Tarijk Hasan, a former
colonel in the Iraqi air force, as he drove through Baghdad on Thursday,
said police Capt. Talib Thamir.
Late Thursday, a U.S. soldier also died near Talil, 270 kilometers
(170 miles) southeast of Baghdad, the military said. The death, apparently
of non-hostile causes, brought to at least 2,038 the number of U.S. military
service members who have died since the Iraq conflict began in March 2003,
according to an Associated Press count.
The al-Qaida threat to foreign diplomats was contained in a
statement posted on an Islamic Web site. It was posted one day after the
country's most feared terror group announced it had condemned two Moroccan
embassy employees to death.
"We are renewing our threat to those so-called diplomatic missions
who have insisted on staying in Baghdad and have not yet realized the
repercussions of such a challenge to the will of the mujahedeen," the Friday
Last July, al-Qaida in Iraq kidnapped and killed two Algerian and
one Egyptian diplomat in an apparent campaign to prevent Arab and Islamic
countries from strengthening ties to the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.
Senior envoys from Pakistan and Bahrain also escaped kidnap attempts. More
than 40 diplomatic missions are currently in Iraq.
The latest al-Qaida statement appeared as majority Shiites began the
three-day religious holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which ends a month of fasting
during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Most of Iraq's minority Sunni Arabs began to celebrate Eid on
Thursday _ based on their different interpretation of the lunar calendar. In
war-torn cities such as Baghdad, Sunnis marked the holiday by dressing up,
taking their children to local amusement parks, and serving lavish meals to
friends and relatives at their homes.
Shiites did the same thing on Friday.
In Sadr City, a large Shiite area of Baghdad, crowds of children
wearing new outfits formed lines to get on Ferris wheels and other rides at
small local amusement parks.
But security by police and local militias remained tight, given all
the insurgent attacks that occur in the capital, including suicide car
bombs, drive-by shootings and roadside bombs.
"We cannot fully enjoy Eid because of all the explosions we hear,"
said Karar al-Aboudi, 25, the owner of clothes stall near one park. "We have
no reason to celebrate under occupation and terrorism. We pray to God that
in the next Eid, our country will be stable and free."
In a speech marking Eid in another part of Baghdad, a top Shiite
leader urged voters to support his coalition in Iraq's Dec. 15 parliamentary
Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution of Iraq, told a crowd gathered at his party headquarters that the
aim of his candidates is "to protect all Iraqis, not only Shiites but also
minority Sunnis and Kurds."
Two major religious parties _ SCIRI and Prime Minister Ibrahim
al-Jaafari's Dawa Party _ form Iraq's top Shiite alliance. Both parties have
been criticized for their close ties to Iran.
When Iraq elected its current interim parliament on Jan. 30, many
Sunnis boycotted the vote, and the Shiite alliance won the biggest share of
seats. But many Sunnis are expected to vote in the Dec. 15 ballot for a new
parliament, one that will remain in power for four years.