32 Killed in Separate Incidents, Dozens Wounded
Foreign Ministry Security Chief Assassinated
Wire services report that 32 Iraqis died in violence on Thursday.
Guerrillas assassinated the chief of security for the Iraqi foreign ministry as he and colleagues traveled north from Baghdad toward Kirkuk. Two other officials were injured, as their car was sprayed by machine gun fire from a grey Opel about 110 km. north of the capital.
The resistance in Haditha, a city northwest of Baghdad, detonated a car bomb at the police station, killing 10 Iraqi policemen and wounding 40 other persons, including more than five police. (-Al-Hayat).
In Kirkuk, guerrillas aiming mortar fire at a police station overshot and hit a civilian dwelling, killing four members of the family that lived there, including three children. The oil pipeline between Kirkuk and Ceyhun in Turkey was sabotaged with an explosion, stopping exports from that route.
Two guerrillas who appear to have been planning to detonate a car bomb at the Bulgarian garrison near Karbala accidentally set off the bombs prematurely, killing themselves.
The Iraqi security forces continued their sweeps of Haifa Street in Baghdad, an area dominated by Sunni fundamentalists and Arab nationalists. They arrested 9 suspected criminals or guerrillas, and engaged in firefights with others, killing 15. Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan is quoted as saying, “You have all heard about the notorious Haifa Street, where there are criminal cells of salafists (Islamists) and those loyal to the previous regime . . . A joint operation by the national guard and elements of the Defence Ministry led to the killing of 15 people and the arrest of nine.”
In Najaf, police captured a Libyan national who confessed to having a relationship with al-Qaeda and to having been involved in the bombings of Shiite worshippers at Karbala and Kazimiya on Ashura in early March. (-Al-Hayat) (There have been numerous previous reports of foreigners being arrested in the wake of such bombings, but one has to take them with a grain of salt, since usually the arrestees have been found innocent after a careful investigation).
Alissa Rubin of the Los Angeles Times has an excellent piece on the divisions between the Sadrists and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq in Najaf. Her high-placed Shiite informants explained that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has decided not overtly to attack the young radical cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, fearing that it might provoke a decisive split within Iraqi Shiism. In the meantime, however, the de facto split has left Najaf without its Friday prayer services and signalled a severe weakness in Shiism, anyway.
Thousands of Iraqis demonstrated Thursday in Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala and Basra, demanding the execution of Saddam Hussein and protesting the return of former Baathists to administrative positions in the Allawi government and the Iraqi army. They also condemned the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. They chanted slogans against the United States and Zionism and “terrorism.” The demonstration held in downtown Baghdad was organized by Shiite parties and by Ahmad Chalabi. The demonstration in Najaf, which included women, had been organized by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. (-al-Sharq al-Awsat)
Jordanian sources admitted that Saddam’s daughter, Raghad, who lives in Amman, had been the victim of a failed assassination attempt in May.
Also in Baghdad, 7 liquor shops were firebombed with hand grenades and received machine gun fire during the past two days (- al-Hayat). Ian Fisher of the New York Times has a longer piece on the phenomenon, attributing most of it to the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr. He reveals that the decree forbidding liquor sales was signed by 28 tribal chieftains loyal to Muqtada, and drafted by Malek al-Muhammadawi, whose name suggests he is a chief of the Al-Bu Muhammad Marsh Arab tribe. Muqtada’s increasing sway with tribal chieftains isominous, since tribes are a natural cavalry and can supply tribal levies to fight in various causes. If they have given fealty to Muqtada, that could mean trouble down the road.
Robert Fisk reports on a wave of assassinations of Iraqi academics, over a dozen of whom have been assassinated in recent months.
A headless body believed to be that of a Bulgarian hostage was found on Thursday.
Interim Prime Minister Allawi announced that he was going to create a new secret police, raising alarums among some Iraqis who had suffered at the hands of Saddam’s secret police and who had been hoping that the new Iraq would only have ordinary police.