Iraqi PM declares war on al Qaeda in Mosul
Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declared a major offensive against Al-Qaeda on Friday, vowing a "decisive battle" after dozens of people including a police chief were killed in bomb attacks in Mosul. Iraqi forces were moving towards Mosul, 370 kilometres north of Baghdad, for a major assault that would become a "decisive battle," Maliki told an economic conference in the central shrine city of Karbala.
At least 35 people died and 217 wounded in a massive bomb attack Wednesday in Mosul, Iraq's third main city and capital of Nineveh province. A suicide bomber killed provincial police chief Brigadier General Salah al-Juburi and two other officers on Thursday when they went to inspect the previous day's carnage. "We have formed an operations centre in Nineveh (province) for a final war against Al-Qaeda and the remnants of the former (Saddam Hussein) regime," Maliki said, according to AFP.
"Today our forces are moving towards Mosul. What we have planned in Nineveh will be final. It will be a decisive battle," he said. "The crime committed by Al-Qaeda on Wednesday in Nineveh is just the last of their resources. We have defeated Al-Qaeda in Iraq and only Nineveh remains."
He warned that the Iraqi army was now a powerful force. "We have a real Iraqi army. I want to say that to all those people who think they can do things in front of the Iraqi security forces that those days have gone."
On his part, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf later told The Associated Press that 3,000 police were being sent as reinforcements for the 16,000 policemen already in Mosul to combat insurgents. He also said additional troops would be sent to the area.
In violence on Friday, police said a man was killed and another wounded when their car was struck by a roadside bomb at Abu Saida near the Diyala provincial capital Baquba.