June 12, 2005

Over 30 Reported Dead in Attacks Around Iraq


New York Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 11 - At least 34 Iraqis and 2 American marines were killed in violence in central and western Iraq on Friday night and Saturday, Iraqi and American officials said. Iraqi forces also reported finding the bodies of two Sudanese men in the capital, and American soldiers fatally shot two Iraqis working as security contractors and wounded two others, an Interior Ministry official said.

In one of the more startling attacks on Saturday morning, a former member of an elite Iraqi commando unit called the Wolf Brigade entered the brigade headquarters in eastern Baghdad and detonated explosives strapped to his body, said Bayan Jabr, the Interior Minister. The explosion killed at least three Iraqi soldiers and one other person. Mr. Jabr said there was nothing left of the attacker but his head and feet.

The Wolf Brigade was originally based in Mosul and recently moved to Baghdad, Mr. Jabr said. He said the bomber appeared to be trying to kill the unit's commander, but detonated his explosives too early. "This is the nature of the fight between us and the terrorists," he added.

Three people from the insurgent stronghold of Latifiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, have been detained in the bombing investigation, Mr. Jabr said. Throughout the war, the American military and the Iraqi government have been trying to grapple with the infiltration of Iraqi security forces by insurgents. Some of the worst attacks by guerrillas have been carried out with the aid of inside information or inside access.

The assault on the Wolf Brigade came as deadly attacks were reported elsewhere. South of Baghdad, gunmen surrounded a minibus carrying construction workers and shot 11 of them to death and wounded 3 others, police officials said. Late Friday, a car bomb exploded outside a health center in the Shula neighborhood of the capital, killing at least 10 people and injuring 27 others, the Interior Ministry official said.

A hospital official in Falluja said a roadside bomb explosion killed two Iraqis believed to be working at an American base in the area and injured three others.

At 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, men opened fire on an Iraqi commando convoy passing through western Baghdad, killing at least three of the soldiers, the official said. A bomb went off early Saturday in the vast Shiite cemetery in Najaf, killing two Iraqis, including an 8-year-old girl, and wounding three others, the Associated Press reported.

Also in the morning, the police found the bodies of three Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, the Interior Ministry official said. The men, who belonged to the Sunni-dominated Dulaim tribe in rebellious western Iraq, had been handcuffed and blindfolded, and there were signs of torture on their bodies, the official said. The victims were Saadi Khalaf, an Oil Ministry employee; Muhammad Khalaf, a reporter for Al Majd, a newspaper; and Esam Fadhil, their cousin.

The three men were taken from their homes in southern Baghdad on Friday night, reportedly by men wearing police uniforms and riding in Interior Ministry vehicles, the official said. Their kidnappers told people in those houses that they were intelligence officers with the Interior Ministry, the official added.

In recent weeks, Sunni leaders have accused the Shiite-led government of using Shiite militias to execute Sunnis, a charge that Shiite officials vehemently deny.

On Friday night, police officials also discovered the bodies of two Sudanese men in western Baghdad.

American soldiers and four Iraqi security contractors engaged in a firefight on a road in western Baghdad at dawn on Saturday, the Interior Ministry official said. The shootout ended in the death of two of the Iraqis and the wounding of the other two. An American officer, Lt. Jamie Davis, said the firefight began when the Iraqis drove too close to an American convoy. He added that he had no confirmation that the Iraqis were security contractors, but said the soldiers found many Kalashnikov assault rifles in the car.

A suicide bomber detonated a small water tanker full of explosives outside the Slovak Embassy in Baghdad, wounding four people, including an embassy guard, the police said.

The American military said Saturday that two marines were killed Friday when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle. The attack took place near Saqlawiya, in volatile Anbar Province. The surge in violence came as Mr. Jabr held a news conference to tout the successes of Operation Lightning, an offensive begun last month that is aimed at reducing insurgent attacks in Baghdad and nearby regions. More than 1,300 people have been detained, 8 of them foreign fighters, Mr. Jabr said, and the number of average daily cars bombs in Baghdad has been reduced to less than one from a dozen.