Iraq: Attacks target soldiers, ”Awakening Councils” members

Published December 31st, 2007 - 11:41 GMT

A roadside bomb targeting a patrol near the Iranian border killed two Iraqi troops Monday and wounded another four, police said. The attack occurred shortly after dawn in the frontier town of Mandali, about 30 miles from the Iranian border in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, a police officer said, according to the AP.


Overall in 2007, however, the country has seen a 60 percent decline in violence, U.S. military officials have said. The drop is attributed to a combination of the surge, a cease-fire declared by Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr for his Mahdi Army militia and the growth of the Awakening Councils, the mainly Sunni tribal groups that have turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq.


Meanwhile, a suicide bomber rammed his truck into a checkpoint manned by members of an anti-Qaeda front in the town of Tarmiyah north of Baghdad on Monday, killing at least nine people, four of them children, police said. Five members of the so-called "Awakening" council were killed and another two were reported missing after the attack, which occurred in the centre of the mainly Sunni town at around 8:45 am, police spokesman Lieutenant Ahmed Abdullah told AFP.


He added he believed the bodies of the two missing may have been ripped apart in the huge blast. The four children killed, aged about 15, were crossing the road to school when they were hit by the blast.


In the town of Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad, gunmen traded fire Monday with police and Awakening Council members, leaving one council member and one policeman dead and wounding three policemen, a police officer said. Separately, six mortar rounds landed near an Iraqi Army checkpoint near the town, wounding two soldiers, the officer said.


In the capital, a mortar round wounded three civilians when it landed on a house in Baghdad's western neighborhood of Amariyah, a Baghdad police officer said.



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