24 Dead in Sunni Counter-Attacks; Major Refinery in Flames

In a further sign of a determined new year’s counter-attack by the radical Salafis and/or neo-Baathists, a wave of bombings and kidnappings swept Iraq on Monday, leaving 24 dead, dozens wounded.

In the eastern Sunni enclave of Adhamiya in Baghdad, now more and more surrounded by purely Shiite districts, Sunni guerrillas attacked the offices of the local Sunni Pious Endowments Board, which overlaps with the leadership of the pro-American Awakening Council. al-Hayat reports in Arabic that one guerrilla detonated a belt bomb, and the other used a car bomb. They killed 14 persons, including Col. Riyadh al-Samarra’i, and wounded 25. Al-Samarra’i had commanded units of Sunni militiamen on the American payroll. While the Awakening Councils in other provinces are mostly tribal levies, in urban neighborhoods of Baghdad they appear often to be manned by former soldiers of the Baath Army or former Sunni guerrillas.

Further, three Awakening Council patrolmen were killed in various attacks in south Baghdad and Bayji. Several angry commanders of Awakening Council fighters called Al-Hayat to complain that the Shiite government of PM Nuri al-Maliki was offering them no support and was leaving them as sitting ducks. They said that the Iranian Quds Force or the Mahdi Army were in part behind the government’s reluctance to provide them with security. They predicted that the campaign against them was only beginning. Shuja` Naji Shakir al-Adhami, a former Baath officer now leading an Awakening Council unit in al-Ghazaliya, went further and accused the Iraqi government of collaborating in attacks on the councils.

Reuters reports other attacks on Monday:

‘ BAGHDAD – A bomb hidden in a street vendor’s cart killed four people and wounded 16 others in the Karrada district of central Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A bomb stuck on the side of a parked car killed one civilian and wounded four, including two policemen, when it detonated near a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Baghdad’s Shi’ite slum of Sadr City, police said. . .

BAGHDAD – Gunmen in five cars kidnapped between eight and 10 neighborhood patrol volunteers in Baghdad’s northern Shaab district. Police said the volunteers had been manning a vehicle checkpoint.

BAGHDAD – Seven bodies were found around Baghdad, police said. . .

MOSUL – Two bodies were found in eastern Mosul, one of them handcuffed and blindfolded, police said.

LATIFIYA – Gunmen killed a neighborhood patrol volunteer at a checkpoint in Latifiya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.’

In what appears to be an industrial accident, one of Iraq’s major oil refineries, was damaged on Monday. The damage to the refinery raised the specter of shortages of gasoline and kerosene. At least 4 persons were killed and 24 were wounded in the fiery blasts.

McClatchy adds:

‘ Diyala

Police found five bodies near the main street in Qara Kitta village 100 Kms east Baquba north of Baquba. One of the bodies was the body of the mayor of Qaraqoosh village.

Gunmen killed a civilian in Buhorz village south of Baquba today morning.

A police office and a member of Sahwa were injured when a mortar shell hit a combined check point downtown Baquba city today morning.

Kirkuk

Gunmen killed three civilians (a husband and his wife and an Iraqi army soldier) in Abo Saif village, part of al-Reyadh city west of Kirkuk city yesterday night.

A katyosha rocket hit the area near the building of Iraqia channel downtown Kirkuk city today morning. No casualties were reported. ‘

Bill Boyarsky argues that leading Democratic candidates are not facing the truth, that the US cannot afford a continued Iraq troop presence in addition to the costs of implementing universal health care.

Farideh Farhi weighs in on the issue of the Iranian gunboats making a run at US naval ships. She feels that if the radio intercepts were accurate, it is highly unlikely that these were local units acting alone– as I had suggested.

See also the recent postings at Global Affairs on Pakistan by Barnett Rubin.

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