Archive for Friday, January 26, 2007

P.M. vows no letup against terrorism

January 26, 2007

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— Iraq's prime minister insisted Thursday there will be "no safe place in Iraq for terrorists," hours before a suicide car bombing killed at least 26 people in the Shiite neighborhood of Karradah and two rockets slammed into the heavy fortified Green Zone not far from the U.S. Embassy.

Angry Karradah residents took to the streets chanting "We want the Sunnis out!" after the blast, the second suicide bombing in three days in the neighborhood. The explosion destroyed three minivans, 11 cars and dozens of shops, as well as the local post office, according to a resident.

As the rockets fell and bombs exploded across the Tigris River, the public address system inside the Green Zone compound could be heard warning in English that people should take cover because "this is not a drill."

Five people were wounded in the rocket attack, none seriously. Mortar and rocket attacks hit the zone frequently but reported casualties are rare.

The attacks came on a day that police reported 61 killed in sectarian violence nationwide, including the bodies of 22 torture victims dumped in Baghdad, and a parliamentary debate was suspended briefly after arguments broke out between Sunnis and Shiites over security.

Parliament held yet another raucous session, this time witnessing a heated exchange between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Sunni legislator and cleric Abdul-Nasser al-Janabi, who accused the Shiite-dominated government of carrying out purges against Sunnis, the minority sect in Iraq.

The prime minister was seeking support for his and President Bush's plan to crush sectarian violence in Baghdad.

U.S. Deaths

As of Thursday,at least 3,069 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Al-Maliki gave no details for the plan, which he named "Operation Imposing Law," nor did he say when it would begin. U.S. officials have indicated the security operation, to which Bush has pledged an additional 21,500 U.S. soldiers, should start in earnest about Feb. 1. A brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division already has arrived for the mission.

The prime minister vowed to go after those behind Baghdad's rampant violence no matter where they try to hide and regardless of sectarian beliefs, promising at the same time to ensure the human rights of innocent Iraqis.

"We are full of hope. We have no other choice but to use force and any place where we receive fire will not be safe even if it is a school, a mosque, a political party office or home," he said. "There will be no safe place in Iraq for terrorists."

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