The numbers of Iraqi civilian deaths and improvised explosive devices (IED) increased last month, although there were still fewer of each than in September, statistics from the Interior Ministry showed.
The number of civilian deaths last month was 148, compared with 118 in October and 156 in September. The number of IEDs was 108, compared with 79 in October and 113 in September. Most measures of violence remain much lower than last fall.
The new statistics also showed a rise in the number of attacks using “sticky bombs” — explosive devices that attach magnetically to the bottom of a car — which have become increasingly popular among insurgents.
The latest target of the devices was a reporting team for National Public Radio, led by Ivan Watson.
He and his three-man Iraqi news team in Baghdad survived an assassination attempt on Sunday. A sticky bomb had been affixed to the bottom of their armored car. When they were just seconds from getting in, the device exploded, destroying the car.
“This was chilling because someone knew there was a foreigner and they put a bomb under the car,” Watson said.
“Iraqis are getting killed by these things every day and it just happened we were the target this time,” he said.
Meanwhile, discussion continued over the weekend on the security pact with the US, which the Iraqi parliament ratified on Thursday.
In ratifying the deal, parliament voted to require a national referendum on it, and Iraq’s senior clerics appeared to endorse the necessity of a popular vote as a way for the pact to achieve legitimacy. The accord will govern how US forces in Iraq operate from next year through 2011.
On Sunday, a UN representative whose office helps organize elections here said that planning for the vote could not begin until after provincial elections scheduled for the end of next month. Staffan de Mistura, the UN representative to Iraq, said at a news conference that the ballot priority for now was the elections for provincial councils.
The elections, which are complicated because they will be in all but four provinces, are being organized by Iraq’s Independent High Election Commission (IHEC).
“The first step for the IHEC is the elections in January,” de Mistura, a Swede, said in answer to a question about whether the commission would be ready for the referendum next year.
Meanwhile, the US military said yesterday it had captured four suspected members of an Iranian-backed insurgent network.
The four detained belong to an insurgent group called Kataib Hezbollah, the US military said in a statement.
“Kataib Hezbollah is assessed to be a surrogate of Iran. Its members are believed to be responsible for recent attacks against Iraqi citizens and coalition forces,” the US military said.
US troops have caught 33 Iranian-sponsored criminals in the last month, the military said. It was not clear whether Monday’s detentions were included in that figure.
Also yesterday, South Korea formally ended a four-year military mission to Iraq at a ceremony in the northern Kurdish city of Arbil, with the first troops due to start leaving later this week.
Remaining troops, including those of an air support unit based in Kuwait, should be out before Dec. 20, military command said.
The ceremony was hosted by Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin, the number two commander of US forces in Iraq, and attended by Iraqi and Kurdish officials.