Iraq: Governor, police chief assassinated
A huge roadside bomb on Saturday killed the governor and police chief of a southern province that has seen fierce internal fighting between Shiite factions, officials said. The bomb hit a convoy carrying Khalil Jalil Hamza, the governor of the Qadisiyah province, and the provincial police chief home from a funeral service for a tribal sheikh, army Brig. Gen. Othman al-Farood said.
Hamza and the police chief, Maj. Gen. Khalid Hassan, died, along with their driver and a body guard who were in the same SUV, according to al-Farood, the commander of the Iraqi army division in charge of the area.
According to the AP, the attack occurred in the town of Aajaf, as the convoy was going back to the provincial capital of Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad.
In Baghdad, militants bombed the house of a prominent anti-al-Qaeda Sunni cleric, seriously wounding him and killing three of his relatives. That attack, which was followed by a fierce firefight, came after Sheikh Wathiq al-Obeidi called on residents in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Azamiyah to rise up against foreign fighters.
The explosion struck al-Obeidi's house before dawn and was followed by gunfire that resounded across the predominantly Sunni neighborhood. The cleric, a former preacher at the Abu Hanifa mosque, was seriously injured and his brother and two female relatives died, according to the head of the neighborhood council Dawood al-Azami.
On the political front, the largest Sunni bloc in Iraq welcomed the international community's decision to expand the U.N. role in Iraq and open the door for the world body to promote talks to ease Iraq's sectarian bloodshed. The resolution adopted Friday by the Security Council authorizes the United Nations to promote political talks among Iraqis.
"The U.N. is a neutral party that can play a good role in Iraq. They have played good role previously and now, we need them to re-activate that role and expand it, so we welcome this renewed chance for them here in Iraq," said Salim Abdullah, a spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni political bloc in parliament.