22 killed in suicide attacks in Iraq | VailDaily.com

22 killed in suicide attacks in Iraq

BAGHDAD – A female suicide bomber attacked the offices of an anti-al-Qaida group that has joined forces with the U.S., killing 12 people Friday in one of Iraq’s most violent provinces, police and the U.S. military said.A second attack at a checkpoint manned by Iraqi soldiers and another of the U.S-backed groups killed 10 people, an Iraqi army officer said.The attacks highlighted the dangers for the U.S.-backed groups, which often include former insurgents who have turned against al-Qaida in Iraq. The groups are credited with helping stem Iraq’s violence along with the influx of U.S. troops.Both bombings were in Diyala province, which remains one of the country’s most violent regions despite dramatic security gains in Baghdad and elsewhere.In the first attack, in the city of Muqdadiyah, 10 of those killed were members of the local anti-al-Qaida group who have partnered with U.S. and Iraqi forces to rid their neighborhood of militants, said Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Tamimi, the city police chief, who said the bombing claimed 15 lives. The U.S. military said 12 people died.Another police official said the suicide bomber, who had detonated an explosives belt, was a former member of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party and identified her as Suhaila Hussein Ali. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details of the attack.It was the second suicide attack involving a woman in less than two weeks. On Nov. 27, a woman blew herself up near an American patrol near Diyala’s provincial capital Baqouba, wounding seven U.S. troops and five Iraqis, the U.S. military said.Friday’s explosion occurred on the outskirts of Muqdadiyah, a majority Sunni city about 60 miles north of Baghdad, on a road leading to the town market, al-Tamimi said.Meanwhile, a suicide car bombing at a checkpoint in the Mansouriayah area, 20 miles east of the provincial capital of Baqouba, killed seven Iraqi soldiers and three members of a local anti-al-Qaida group, according to an Iraqi army officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details.Although violence has declined nationwide, it is still frequent in the north, where al-Qaida in Iraq militants and other extremists are believed to have fled a U.S.-led security crackdown that began in mid-February in Baghdad.As the influx of U.S. troops gained momentum earlier this year, American officials have courted both Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders around the country, hoping they will help lead local drives against al-Qaida and other militants. A similar effort saw some success in Iraq’s westernmost province, Anbar, where Sunni tribes rose against the organization’s brutality and austere version of Islam.The groups now include some 60,000 Iraqis nationwide, most of them Sunni Arabs, according to the U.S. military, and members have come under increasing attack from militants trying to offset recent security gains.Since the groups began forming in Diyala in July, many of their members have faced deadly militant strikes. In Baqouba, at least 13 have died in suicide attacks, roadside bombings shootings, according to records compiled from local police.With overall violence on the decline, the United States has pushed Iraq’s government to make strides in reconciling Sunni Arabs, Shiites and Kurds – a step seen as key to keeping the peace in the country.A stumbling block in recent days has been a dispute over raids on the home and offices of Adnan al-Dulaimi, one of Iraq’s most powerful Sunni politicians that led to the arrest of his security detail, after a guard was found with the keys to an explosives-rigged car.He accused the Shiite-led government of trying to silence a pro-Sunni voice by putting him under virtual house arrest. The government says he was being protected because he no longer had bodyguards. Al-Dulaimi was kept under guard for three days following the raid last Thursday night, then shifted to a hotel in the fortified Green Zone.He returned home Friday and said the Iraqi military sent Humvees along with him.”I do not need protection, and I think that these vehicles were meant to put me under observation rather than protecting me,” he told The Associated Press.During a sermon Friday at Baghdad’s main Sunni mosque, Sheik Jamal al-Obeidi said the dispute over al-Dulaimi pointed to a broader problem: “Iraq’s government talks publicly about national reconciliation, but in reality we do not find this reconciliation.”

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