More deaths as Iraq war enters fourth year - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

More deaths as Iraq war enters fourth year

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Posted: Monday, March 20, 2006 5:08 am | Updated: 3:32 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Roadside bombings killed at least seven Iraqi policemen on Monday's third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion, and authorities said they found 14 bullet-riddled bodies dumped in the capital.

South of Baghdad, millions of Shiite pilgrims poured into Karbala to complete 40 days of symbolic mourning for Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.

The Shiite Muslims carried flags and performed rituals of self-flagellation with chains and machetes to display grief over Hussein's death. Some 4 million pilgrims had arrived at the city, said Karbala Gov. Akeel al-Khuzai, who expected more through Tuesday.

The commemoration has been marked by deadly insurgent attacks in the past. In 2004, coordinated blasts at Shiite shrines in Karbala and in Baghdad killed at least 181 people.

Tight security appeared to be holding sectarian violence at bay, though five pilgrims making their way to Karbala were attacked in a drive-by shooting. All survived, police said.

The Baghdad International Airport was ordered closed through Tuesday as a precaution, Transportation Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abdul-Wahab said.

Monday's violence took up where it left off Sunday, when at least 35 people were killed.

A large explosion rocked a coffee shop in northern Baghdad's Azamiyah neighborhood, killing at least three civilians and wounding 15, police said.

One of the roadside bombings Monday, just a few hundred yards from an Interior Ministry lockup in central Baghdad, killed at least three Iraqi police commandos and a prisoner, police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said. Four commandos were injured.

A second roadside bomb in a farming area in the so-called "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad killed four policemen, police Capt. Muthana Khalid Ali said.

The 14 dumped bodies, including that of a 13-year-old girl, were the latest gruesome discoveries tied to the underground sectarian war being conducted by Shiite and Sunni Muslims as they settle scores in the chaos gripping the capital.

As many as 700 people have been killed in sectarian violence since the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra and the subsequent car bombings and mortar attacks in the Sadr City slum March 12.

Baghdadis voiced anger when asked about their lives as the war entered its fourth year.

"Since (U.S.-led troops) came into Iraq, we get nothing," said Ali Zeidan. "Three years have passed by for the Iraqi people and they are still suffering psychologically ... and economically."

Stifling terrorism and reviving the economy are the main challenges, interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari wrote in a column in Monday's Washington Post.

A car bomb exploded close to a police checkpoint near a hospital in downtown Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad, killing one police officer and wounding another as well as two civilians, police said.

Gunmen appeared to hunt down specific individuals, killing an oil official going to work in the northern town of Mosul and opening fire on a former Baghdad mayor as he left home in the southern Dora neighborhood, causing serious injuries, police said.

Assailants in a speeding car shot and wounded a city council member for Karradah, a downtown Baghdad district, and gunmen killed a grocer in the capital at work, according to police.

In Mosul, 225 miles northwest of the capital, three separate attacks on police patrols killed one officer and wounded four others and two civilians late Sunday.

Another Iraqi police officer with a joint American-Iraqi patrol was killed in Baghdad during fighting with insurgents in the Amariyah neighborhood, police said. Two others, including a policewoman in civilian clothes on her way home, were seriously injured.

On the political front, Iraqi leaders still had not formed a government more than three months after landmark elections for the first permanent post-invasion parliament. However, they announced agreement on setting up a Security Council to deal with key matters while negotiations proceed.

The announcement came Sunday after the fourth in a series of U.S.-brokered all-party meetings on forming a government.

"It was a successful meeting, and we have agreed on forming a National Security Council whose powers will not contradict the constitution," Adnan al-Dulaimi, a Sunni Arab political leader, told The Associated Press.

The council, to be headed by President Jalal Talabani, was established as an interim measure as politicians struggle to agree on the makeup of a government following the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections.

Al-Dulaimi said nine council seats would go to Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, while Kurds and Sunni Arabs each would control four seats and the secular bloc two. Talabani, a Kurd, would head the group.

The exact powers of the council, if any, were not explained. But it appeared to have been formed to ensure that politicians from minority blocs would at least be consulted in advance on important government and security decisions.

The political discussions on forming a government began last week under pressure from U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. Al-Dulaimi said the talks would not resume until Saturday because of Shiite and Kurdish holidays this week.

Returning to the White House after a weekend at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Md., President Bush offered an upbeat assessment.

"We are implementing a strategy that will lead to victory in Iraq. And a victory in Iraq will make this country more secure and will help lay the foundation of peace for generations to come," he said.

Former interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said the continuing violence could only be described as a civil war.

"If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is," Allawi told the British Broadcasting Corp. in an interview aired Sunday.

The Bush administration disagreed.

"What we've seen is a serious effort by them to foment a civil war," Vice President Dick Cheney said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"But I don't think they've been successful."

The 133,000 American troops in Iraq are nearly a third more than participated in the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein that began in the early hours of March 20, 2003.

At least 2,314 U.S. military personnel have died in the war, which is estimated to have cost $200 billion-$250 billion so far. Bush says about 30,000 Iraqis have been killed, while others put the toll far higher.

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