Baghdad reels from suicide attack, Mosul offensive picks up steam

May 15th, 2008 - 4:53 pm ICT by admin  

Baghdad, May 15 (DPA) The death toll of a suicide bombing in west Baghdad attributed to a teenager rose to 30 Thursday while Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki continued his visit to Mosul where he is overseeing a military offensive against Al Qaeda militants. The suicide bombing occurred Wednesday evening in Abu-Ghraib, west of Baghdad, Iraqi police said.

The suicide attacker targeted relatives of Colonel Faisal al-Zobai, the anti-Al Qaeda police chief of Fallujah, while they were mourning the death of his uncle, who was killed by gunmen Tuesday.

The Zobai clan is opposed to Al Qaeda in Iraq group and Col al-Zobai was himself a former insurgent, who turned against his fellow insurgents, according to the Washington Post.

Preliminary reports, including one by the US military, put the death toll at 14. Eight people were also wounded in the attack.

But the death toll rose to 30 while the number of wounded increased to 20, according to the Voices of Iraq VOI news agency.

Eyewitnesses described the bomber as a teenager.

In Mosul, the capital of the northern Nineveh province, the prime minister told lawmakers representing the province in parliament that every inch of Iraqi land should return to the authority of the state.

“We will not accept that Mosul remains in the thrall of Al Qaeda, remnants of the former regime and outlaws as were cities, like Ramadi, Fallujah, Basra and Sadr City,” al-Maliki said.

The Mosul offensive comes in the heels of two other operations in Basra and Sadr City, both of which targeted Shia militias.

Mosul is believed to be the last urban stronghold of Al Qaeda in Iraq group, which is a home-grown militant Sunni group with links to Al Qaeda terrorist network.

Before the launch of the Mosul offensive Saturday, former army officers were arrested on suspicion of belonging to the outlawed Ba’th Party of former president Saddam Hussein.

To placate critics of the arrests, al-Maliki called on former army officers to “return to the fold of army and take part in defending their country and people”.

A statement issued by the al-Maliki’s office quoted Mosul lawmakers as saying: “People in the city welcome the offensive and are prepared to fully cooperate with the army to restore law and order”.

Several local clan chiefs, however, voiced their concerns, in interviews on the private Iraqi al-Sharqiyah channel, that the authorities have committed human rights abuses in the province.

Local people have also complained that some troops deployed in Mosul allegedly belong to the Shia Badr Organisation that have close ties with Iran and claimed that some troops are part of Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Mosul is a multi-ethnic city with a long history of tolerance. The Sunni Arab community in the city fears that the neighbouring Kurdish Autonomous Region may lay claim to the Nineveh province.

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