Wed, Feb 21, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Attacks continue despite Baghdad security initiative


A car bomb and a suicide attacker killed at least 11 people in Baghdad yesterday as militants showed increasing defiance to a major security operation in the capital.

More than 100 people have been killed in the Baghdad area since Sunday in a direct challenge to efforts by US and Iraqi forces to restore some authority on the streets and give the embattled government some breathing room.

The attacks came during the busy morning rush for goods and fuel. A car rigged with explosives tore through a line of vehicles at a gas station in the Sadiyah district in southwestern Baghdad. At least six people were killed and 14 injured, police said.

The neighborhood is mixed between the majority Shiites and Sunnis, whose militant factions are blamed for many of the recent bombings and attacks.

Later, a suicide attacker drove a bomb-laden car into a vegetable market near a Shiite enclave in southern Baghdad. At least five people were killed and seven injured, police said. The same market in the mostly Sunni Dora district was targeted last month by three car bombs that killed 10 people.

Outside Baghdad, nearly 150 people were hospitalized complaining of breathing problems, vomiting and other ailments after a truck carrying a chlorine-based substance was hit by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, said Brigadier General Qassim Moussawi, a military spokesman.

Two people died in the blast and the others were treated after being exposed to fumes and debris near Taji, about 20km northwest of Baghdad, Moussawi said. All those treated were in stable condition.

On Monday, insurgents staged a bold daylight assault against a US combat post north of Baghdad, killing two soldiers and injuring 17. The US military called it a "coordinated attack" -- which began with a suicide car bombing and then gunfire on soldiers pinned down in a former Iraqi police station, where fuel storage tanks were set ablaze by the blast.

The head-on attack in the town of Tarmiyah, about 50km north of Baghdad, was notable for both its tactics and target. Sunni insurgents have mostly used hit-and-run ambushes, roadside bombs or mortars on US troops and stayed away from direct assaults on fortified military compounds to avoid US firepower.

In Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Makiki moved to try to defuse a potentially explosive scandal after a Sunni woman claimed that she had been raped by three officers of the Shiite-dominated police.

But the government's response -- siding with the officers and trying to discredit the allegations -- threatened to bring an even bigger backlash.

The 20-year-old married woman said she was assaulted after police detained her on Sunday in the Baghdad neighborhood of Amil, accusing her of helping insurgents.

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