Iraq: Scores die in blasts, US raid and sectarian violence; At least 18 abducted
A suicide bomber hit a joint U.S.-Iraqi military base in northern Iraq on Monday, killing at least 40 people and injuring as many as 30, the Iraqi military said. The attack took place shortly after noon at an Iraqi army recruiting center about 18 miles east of Tal Afar, the AP reported.
The US army said that no Americans had been killed in the explosion.
In Baghdad, a bomb went off in a bus, killing two passengers and wounding at least four others, police Col. Hassan Jaloob said. The bomb had been left in a bag, he said. Elsewhere, a rocket that hit the headquarters of the Shiite Fadhila party in southeast Baghdad killed seven people and injured 13, police Capt. Ali Mahdi said.
Also Monday, gunmen abducted 16 employees of an Iraqi trading company, an Interior Ministry official confirmed. The gunmen arrived at the headquarters of the Saeed import and export company in four cars and drove away with the employees, Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammadawi said.
In another incident, gunmen kidnapped a university president after storming into his home in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, a relative said.
Earlier, 21 tortured and strangled bodies were found on Monday by Iraqi authorities in Baghdad, according to Reuters. The discovery of the corpses was the most recent incident of gruesome violence in Iraq, in what some have already termed a civil war.
Sectarian violence has spiraled to new levels ever since last month's bombing of a Shiite mosque in the town of Sammara by Sunni fighters. Over 80 people have been reported killed over the past 24 hours.
On Sunday, 10 bodies were found by Iraqi authorities in the capital, while an investigation was launched into a report that 30 men had been beheaded near the town of Baquba, reported the New York Times.
Also on Sunday, US troops clashed with Shiite forces in a Baghdad mosque killing some 20 people including an 80-year old imam.
American authorities stated recently that Shiite militias are becoming a growing threat in Iraq, as sectarian tensions rise and mutilated bodies are discovered on an almost daily basis. Aides to the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi police said the incident took place at a mosque, with police claiming 22 bystanders died and al-Sadr's aides saying 18 innocent men were killed.
The Americans said Iraqi special forces backed by U.S. forces killed 16 "insurgents" in a raid on a community meeting hall after gunmen opened fire on approaching troops.
Shortly after the attack, al-Sadr issued a statement calling for calm. "I call upon all brothers to stay calm and I call upon the Iraqi army to protect the pilgrims as the Nawasib (fighters) are aiming to attack Shiites every day," he said.
Following the raid, Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite, voiced concern and telephoned Iraqi military leaders and U.S. Gen. George Casey to "discuss the situation," said spokesman Abdul Rezzaq Al-Kadhimi.
Iraq's Interior Minister reacted angrily, denouncing the American operation. "Entering the Mustafa Shiite Mosque and killing worshippers was unjustified and a horrible violation from my point of view," Bayan Jabr said on the Al-Arabiya TV news network. "Innocent people inside the mosque offering prayer at sunset were killed."
© 2006 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)