Iraq: More than 50 die in attacks, clashes as Australian hostage freed
Iraqi troops, backed up by U.S. soldiers, released an Australian hostage after more than a month in captivity, officials said Wednesday. Douglas Wood, a 64-year-old engineer, was abducted in late April by a group calling itself the Shura Council of the Mujahedeen of Iraq. "I am delighted to inform the House that the Australian hostage in Iraq, Mr. Douglas Wood, is safe," Prime Minister John Howard said Wednesdaytold Parliament in Canberra.
According to The AP, the release came as a suicide bomber dressed in an Iraqi army uniform walked into an Iraqi mess hall and blew himself up, killing at least 26 Iraqi soldiers and wounding 29.
The suicide bomber walked into the crowded mess hall in Khalis, 20 kilometers northwest of Baqouba, Iraqi army Col. Saleh al-Obeidi said. According to him, Al-Obeidi said the man was wearing an army uniform and waited until soldiers had gathered for lunch before blowing himself up. Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for this attack.
In eastern Baghdad, a suicide car bomber slammed into two police cars on patrol Wednesday, killing 10 people, including eight police officers, and injured more than 20.
Five Iraqis were killed and another eight were wounded when three mortar shells hit on a famous Baghdad kebab restaurant, police said. A police headquarters building in western Baghdad's Shurta district was the apparent target, police said.
Armed men abducted and executed two senior officers Wednesday in Kirkuk's anti-terrorist squad, and the son of one of the men, in the northern city of Kirkuk. Brig. Gen. Naseh Mohie al-Deen, his son and driver Oqba, and Lt. Col. Khalid Ahmed were found dumped streetside with gunshots to their heads.
A gunbattle broke out in Baghdad's western Saydiyah neighborhood when gunmen opened fire on a police patrol, police Lt. Mohammed al-Heyali said. One Iraqi civilian was killed an six police officers were wounded.
Elsewhere, seven people, including two police officers, died in the northern town of Tal Afar in clashes with gunmen, Police Brig. Gen. Naji Abdullah said. Another Iraqi civilian was killed after being shot Tuesday in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Wednesday.