Thu, Apr 15, 2010 - Page 6 News List

Scattered violence afflicts Iraqi capital

AP , BAGHDAD

Mourners prepare to bury Imam Ghazi Juburi, who was shot dead after morning prayers in Baghdad yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Iraqi officials say gunmen fatally shot a Sunni cleric as he was leaving a Baghdad mosque where he had just finished leading morning prayers.

A police official said Imam Ghazi Jabouri was sprayed with bullets outside the al-Rahman mosque in the primarily Sunni-neighborhood of Azamiyah in north Baghdad at about 5am yesterday. An army officer confirmed the report.

Both men spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

It was not known why the 48-year-old imam was targeted, but authorities are worried al-Qaeda in Iraq or other extremists might try to re-ignite sectarian violence following the March 7 parliamentary election.

The vote produced no clear winner, which will likely lead to prolonged negotiations over the next government.

Meanwhile, militants planted a bomb in an eastern Baghdad liquor store on Tuesday, killing the Christian owner and two others, while a TV reporter had his legs blown off by a bomb attached to his car in scattered violence across the city.

The political coalition led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, delayed a press conference in which it was expected to announce an alliance with a rival Shiite bloc, showing that wrangling continues over forming a new government.

There has been an uptick of violence in Iraq in the wake of the March 7 elections, which left no clear winner across Iraq’s fractured political landscape.

Tuesday’s bombings, however, did not necessarily appear to be linked to the political maneuvering, and involved attacks on liquor stores, probably by religious extremists, and the targeting of journalists — both of which have become frequent occurrences over the last several years.

At noon in the neighborhood of Zayouna, attackers posing as customers left behind a black plastic bag filled with explosives.

Three people died, seven were also wounded and nearby stores were damaged.

An hour earlier, a sticky bomb attached to the car of Iraqi TV reporter Omar Ibrahim Rasheed exploded and blew his legs off, said Hazim Ajrawi, director of al-Yarmouk hospital in western Baghdad.

“We are doing our best to keep him alive,” Ajrawi said, adding that the reporter, who works for the small independent al-Rasheed TV, was in critical condition.

Journalists are often targeted by insurgents or just factions who disagree with their reporting.

Another sticky bomb exploded under the car of an off-duty Iraqi soldier in Mahmoudiya, just south of Baghdad, wounding five, police and hospital workers said.

If al-Maliki had succeeded in forging a coalition with the religious Shiite Iraqi National Alliance (INA) bloc, he would be just four seats shy of forging a governing coalition and keeping his job.

The hardcore religious Sadrist wing of the INA, however, appeared to balk at the partnership, according to one of its senior leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity because the sensitive negotiations were ongoing. The Sadrists have a long-standing grudge against al-Maliki.

“We have not yet discussed the nomination for the premiership, but we are adamant about nominating Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for this post,” said Hashim al-Moussawi, a Basra lawmaker from al-Maliki’s party.

He said a deal was imminent.

Tuesday was also marked with a solemn reminder of Iraq’s brutal past as the remains of 107 Kurdish children who died in 1988 during the notorious Operation Anfal were brought home to their village of Chamchamal and buried in a mass funeral ceremony.

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