Sat, Sep 17, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Looking for work becomes deadly

AFP , BAGHDAD

At least 12 Iraqis died in a string of attacks yesterday, including two killed when gunmen fired at Shiite day laborers in southeast Baghdad, as President Jalal Talabani appealed at the UN for help in fighting terrorism.

The gunmen in cars and a minibus sprayed a crowd of day laborers gathered in a square in the Al-Jadidah district, also wounding 13 other people, medics and security officials said.

As the gunmen in the minibus made their getaway, they shot dead a transport ministry employee and wounded two others who were driving nearby, a security official said.

In a third incident in the same neighborhood, a Shiite cleric, Sheikh Fadel Alami, was shot dead in his car.

South of Baghdad, a suicide bomber killed three policemen and wounded six others after driving his explosives-packed car at a police convoy on a highway near Hasswa, police said.

And a senior regional official, Amer al-Khafaji, was assassinated along with four bodyguards in a night raid on his home in nearby Iskandariyah. Two other guards were wounded.

The attacks followed two days of mayhem, mostly in Baghdad, where some 150 people were killed on Wednesday and a further 23 on Thursday, most of them in waves of suicide car bombings.

Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility for the latest wave of violence and declared all-out war on Iraq's Shiite majority.

Speaking at the UN in New York on Thursday, Talabani said Iraq was "not hesitant to openly and frankly say we are in desperate need of ... your support for its efforts to fight terrorism."

"Today, Iraq is facing one of the most brutal campaigns of terror at the hands of the forces of dark-ness," Talabani said.

"They are killing hundreds of Iraqis, destroying their wealth and trying their best to stop their march towards the just goals of rebuilding their country," he said.

US-led coalition forces said nine suspected rebels were killed in an air strike on Thursday night on a "terrorist safe house and weapons cache" in Karabilah.

Meanwhile, Syria strongly condemned the Baghdad suicide bomb attacks and said it was ready to do "whatever it takes" to cooperate with US and Iraqi authorities in bringing security and stability to its eastern neighbor.

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