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Archive for Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Despite tough talk, Iraq violence continues unabated

May 24, 2006

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— A bomb went off in a motorcycle parked in the courtyard of a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, killing 11 people and wounding at least nine - the deadliest of the attacks across Iraq that claimed 40 lives Tuesday.

The bombing in the mixed Tunis neighborhood bore the markings of the sectarian violence tormenting Iraq. The mosque is near the Sunni Arab stronghold of Azamiyah, and Interior Ministry Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said the explosion occurred a couple of hours before the 11 p.m. Baghdad curfew.

An hour later, police said a roadside bomb exploded outside a bakery in southeast Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 12. Five people were killed earlier in the day when a car bomb exploded at the entrance to a police station in Baghdad's biggest Shiite neighborhood.

Dozens of Iraqis were killed nearly every day in the weeks leading up to formation of the new unity government, which many hope will eventually provide Iraq with enough security to allow the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The swearing in Saturday of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government again brought to the forefront the possibility that some foreign troops could start packing for home within months.


A U.S. soldier in a Humvee, right, and an Iraqi policeman, left, examine the wreckage of a vehicle containing a car bomb that detonated in the late afternoon outside a police station in Sadr City, a sprawling Shiite district in northeast Baghdad, killing five. The bombing was one of several Tuesday that left at least 40 Iraqis dead.

A U.S. soldier in a Humvee, right, and an Iraqi policeman, left, examine the wreckage of a vehicle containing a car bomb that detonated in the late afternoon outside a police station in Sadr City, a sprawling Shiite district in northeast Baghdad, killing five. The bombing was one of several Tuesday that left at least 40 Iraqis dead.

President Bush, facing political pressure for troop cutbacks, said Tuesday he would make a fresh assessment about Iraq's needs for U.S. military help now that a new government has taken office in Baghdad.

Al-Maliki and visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Iraqi security forces would start taking control of some provinces and cities next month, a process a British official suggested could lead to full withdrawal of foreign troops in four years.

"We haven't gotten to the point yet where the new government is sitting down with our commanders to come up with a joint way forward," the president said. "However, having said that, this is a new chapter in our relationship. In other words, we're now able to take a new assessment about the needs necessary for the Iraqis."

Al-Maliki reportedly spent much of the day at his office in the heavily fortified Green Zone meeting with advisers and discussing candidates for the defense and interior ministries - key posts that did not get permanent appointments when the government took office.

Sunni Arabs have demanded the Defense Ministry to counterbalance the Shiite-run Interior Ministry, and al-Maliki has said the two posts are so important for the stability of Iraq that he wants to appoint men that would be acceptable to all its communities.

At least 3,886 Iraqis have been killed so far this year in war-related violence and at least 4,239 have been wounded, based on an Associated Press count that may not be complete because the reporting process does not cover the entire country. During May, at least 691 Iraqis were killed. These figures include Iraqi civilians and security forces, but do not include insurgent deaths.

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