Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Dick Cheney Says We're Seeing The "LAST THROES" of the Insurgency in Iraq, May 31, 2005.

May 30th, 2006 9:02 pm
Relentless violence kills 54 in Iraq

By Kim Gamel / Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Car bombs targeting Shiite areas devastated a bustling outdoor market and an auto dealership Tuesday, part of a relentless onslaught that killed 54 people and prompted the United States to deploy more troops to combat insurgents in western Iraq.

The bombs also wounded 120 people, officials said. The death toll made Tuesday one of the bloodiest days in Iraq this month, and lawmakers still had not agreed on who should lead the nation's army and police forces.

Authorities also captured a suspected terrorist who allegedly confessed to beheading hundreds of people. The operation by Iraqi forces also netted documents, cell phones and computers containing information on other wanted terrorists and Islamic extremist groups.

The worst bombing hit the outdoor market as Iraqis were doing their evening shopping in Husseiniyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. At least 25 people were killed and 65 were wounded, Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Falah Al-Mohamedawi said.

Hours earlier, a car packed with explosives blew up at a dealership in the largely Shiite city of Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, killing at least 12 people and wounding 32, Capt. Muthana Khalid said.

A bomb hidden in a plastic bag also detonated outside a bakery in a religiously mixed neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, killing at least nine people and injuring 10, police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said.

Separately, mortar rounds fired by remote control from a car hit the third floor of the heavily guarded Interior Ministry and a nearby park, killing two government employees and wounding three other people.

A day earlier, 40 people were killed in various attacks, including a car bombing in Baghdad that killed two CBS News crewmen and seriously wounded network correspondent Kimberly Dozier. She underwent two emergency surgeries and was transferred to a U.S. military hospital in Germany, where she was reported to be in critical but stable condition.

Before Tuesday, at least 4,066 Iraqis had been killed in war-related violence this year, and at least 4,469 had been wounded, based on Associated Press reports. Those may not be complete, however.

During May, at least 871 Iraqis have been killed, surpassing the 801 killed in April. The deadliest month this year for Iraqis was March, when 1,038 were killed and 1,155 were wounded.

The deadliest day for Iraqis this month was May 7, when at least 67 civilians were killed.

Amid the surge in violence, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki held another day of meetings aimed at getting Iraq's ethnic, sectarian and secular factions to agree on new interior and defense ministers.

But the key security posts remained vacant 10 days after al-Maliki's national unity government took office.

The Interior Ministry, which controls the police forces, has been promised to the Shiites. Sunni Arabs are to get the defense ministry, overseeing the army. It is hoped the balance will enable al-Maliki to move ahead with a plan for Iraqis to take over all security duties over the next 18 months so U.S.-led troops can begin withdrawing.

Al-Maliki told the British Broadcasting Corp. his government had a better chance of suppressing the violence than his predecessors because it is the nation's first permanent government since Saddam Hussein fell.

"Previous governments were either temporary or transitional. They did not receive full backing from the Iraqi people to deal with this issue," he told the BBC.

In the meantime, U.S. military commanders have moved about 1,500 combat troops from a reserve force in Kuwait into the volatile Anbar province to help authorities establish order in the insurgent hotbed stretching from Baghdad west to Syria.

The military command in Iraq described the new deployment as short-term. The plan is to keep the newest troops in Anbar no longer than four months, said one military official, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the move.

The military also said a roadside bomb killed a U.S. soldier Tuesday southeast of Baghdad, while small-arms fire killed an American soldier Monday in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

The bodies of two Marines missing after a helicopter crash in western Iraq over the weekend also were recovered.

The AH-1 Cobra helicopter from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing was on a maintenance test flight when it went down Saturday in Anbar. The military said hostile fire was not suspected as the cause, but the crash was being investigated.

The prime minister's office said suspected terrorist Ahmed Hussein Dabash Samir al-Batawi was captured Monday and confessed to hundreds of beheadings around the country. They released a mugshot of the balding al-Batawi wearing a white T-shirt with a nametag hanging around his neck.

Beheadings are a common tactic used by Islamic extremist groups or sectarian death squads. Al-Qaida in Iraq has claimed responsibility for beheading several foreign hostages, including American Nicholas Berg.

Police also said three unidentified insurgents described as well-known aides of al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were killed last week during clashes in Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, a roadside bomb also killed one police officer and wounded four others, and police found the bodies of nine shooting victims. A decapitated body was discovered floating in a river about 35 miles south of the capital.

Police Capt. Laith Mohammed, meanwhile, said a pregnant woman and her cousin were killed in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, while driving to a maternity hospital. The U.S. military had no immediate comment.

Separately, the U.S. military freed 204 male detainees from Abu Ghraib and other detention centers after an Iraqi-led panel recommended their releases.

To date, the board has reviewed the cases of more than 39,000 detainees, recommending more than 19,600 individuals for release, the military said.

In other violence, according to police and hospital officials:

• Three people were killed and 10 others were wounded in Ramadi, although the circumstances were unclear.

• A suicide car bomber tried to ram into an Iraqi army checkpoint in a village west of Mosul, but Iraqi soldiers opened fire, killing the driver.

• Masked gunmen killed a real estate broker, a baker and the owner of a convenience store in separate attacks in Baghdad.

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