Iraq: 14 die in attacks as videotape of western hostages released

Published March 7th, 2006 - 02:02 GMT

Three Iraqi policemen were killed on Tuesday in the town of Baihi, north of Baghdad when their patrol was attacked by gunmen. Also on Tuesday, gunmen killed an Iraqi police officer in the town of Baquba. Shortly after security forces arrived to investigate, a car bomb exploded, killing one civilian and killed three additional police officers.


Three supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr were also killed by gunmen in Sadr's Baquba office.


Gunmen shot and killed a policeman while he was driving on the Kirkuk-Hawija highway. 
In Baghdad, an Iraqi man was killed and his wife was wounded when a car bomb struck targeted a US patrol nearby.


Top Iraqi commander killed in Baghdad


Meanwhile, sniper-fire killed one of Iraq's top military commanders, Major General Mubdar Hatim Al Dulaimi, as he drove through Baghdad on Monday. Trained by the United States, Dulami was in command of all Iraqi military forces in the city.


The Major General oversaw the 6th Division of the Iraqi army, and was killed in a drive-by attack in the western part of the capital, according to Reuters.


The 6th Division had in recent weeks been major force in attempting to restore calm in the midst of rising sectarian clashes following the February 22 bombing of the Al Askaria Shiite mosque in the town of Samarra.


The division was also the largest and newest division formed by the US in an attempt to turn over security responsibilities from US forces to Iraq's local population.


"This tragic incident will neither impede the 6th Iraqi Army Division from continuing its mission of securing Baghdad nor derail the formation of the government of Iraq," said U.S. commander General George Casey.


Hope dims for cooperation amidst ongoing sectarian violence


In other news, Iraq's parliament is set to meet on March 12 for the first time since its formation in December in an attempt to form a broad coalition government which would represent Iraq's numerous communities. 


However, Iraq's sectarian divide seems to be growing along with bloodshed, and many fear that the country is headed for civil war.


Restoring calm in Iraq has also been a condition of Western leaders for withdrawing foreign troops; US President George W. Bush has stated that American troops will gradually leave Iraq when local forces are able to manage the country's security affairs.


Most of Britain's 8,000 troops currently stationed in Iraq, for instance, are expected to withdraw by the summer of 2008, with the first phase of withdrawal beginning as soon as the coming weeks.


Despite the plans, some feel that such a situation in which most foreign troops leave Iraq is a long way off, and that an Iraqi security apparatus comprised mainly of Kurdish and Shiite troops will spur further violence towards the nation's Sunni minority.  


Videotape of western hostages released


Meanwhile, three western hostages who were abducted in Iraq in November were shown on a videotape broadcast by the Al Jazeera television network on Monday.


The brief videotape, though silent, is said show the hostages asking their respective governments to work for their release, according the AP.


The men are three of four Christian peace activists who were kidnapped in Iraq by the previously unknown Swords of Righteous Bridges. Two of the four captives are Canadians, one is American and another is a British citizen.


It appears as if the missing captive of the four is the American peace activist, Tom Fox.


In previous videotapes, captors have demanded that all Iraqi prisoners be released from Iraqi and U.S. prisons or else the four men would be killed. 



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