Sunday, April 17, 2005

Iraq - kidnappings, bombs and shootings...

In a series of developments, Iraq has spiralled back into another cycle of violence this week, only 7 days after the anniversary marking the fall of Baghdad two years ago. A car bomb targeted Iraqi national guard Friday though no casualties were reported. Al Jazeera reported the destruction of a US Humvee from a roadside bomb, injuring 'several US soldiers'. 2 US soldiers were lost in 'combat operations' in previous days. On Wednesday a mortar landed in a camp in western Iraq killing a soldier from the 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. On Thursday another US marine fell in combat with insurgents near Ramadi. The same day saw a double car bomb attack at the Iraqi Interior Ministry complex in Baghdad's central al-Jadiriyah neighbourhood, at least 14 people were killed and 40 wounded. A third attack in al-Mahawil killed at least four policeman and wounded six. In this attack a bomb was hurled at security officials guarding the local municipal headquarters.
Deaths were not confined only to the combatants in this continued conflict. On Friday, Shamal Abd Allah Assad, who worked for the local station of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, was shot dead by armed men in a car park. It was the second Kurdish journalist to die in Iraq in as many months. Two journalists were shot and killed in the northern city of Mosul in March and February. One of them was a reporter with a local Kurdish television station.
And in the last two hours officials confirmed an ongoing hostage crisis. Up to 60 Shia Muslim hostages, allegedly threatened with death, are being held in a town near Baghdad. Peaceful negotiations have so far failed and Iraqi authorities are considering military action. However, confusion surrounds the incident in the southern Iraqi town of Madain. Speaking to Al Jazeera , a spokesman for Muqtada al-Sadr, Shaikh Abd al-Hadi al-Daraji, denied that the incident had taken place at all and said no hostages had been taken. Residents of LaPorte, Ind., USA, the hometown of Jeffrey Ake, holds a candlelight vigil for the 47-year-old. The American contractor is being held hostage in Iraq by an unknown group. NBC5

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