Monday, May 23, 2005

Iraq - Violence returns with a vengeance

After a recent lull in attacks, violence has returned with a vengeance in Iraq. A top aide to the Iraqi government was killed on Monday and a series of suicide attacks and car bombs have caused many deaths in Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk and Samarra. In one of the more serious attacks more than 70 people were injured and at least 3 people killed when a suicide attacker launched his vehicle into a crowded restaurant in northern Baghdad. In the Kirkuk attack, four died and at 10 were injured when a car bomb hit the government headquarters. Details of the other attacks were not widely reported but CNN said at least 3 US marines were injured in a triple suicide attack in Samarra.
Meanwhile the US military says it has captured 300 suspected insurgent in Operation Squeeze Play which saw a US/Iraqi offensive on Sunday and Monday in the Abu Ghraib area, south of Baghdad. Three US marines were also killed Sunday in a number of roadside bomb attacks in northern Iraq. A fourth died in a vehicle accident. On a lighter note, three Romanian hostages have returned to their home country following their release. The details behind their release are, however, still unclear. Their plane touched down this morning in Bucharest and besides a tyre bursting on landing all were declared safe. The Iraqi translator with which the Romanians were held hostage is “in US custody” due to the “intelligence material he may possess”, the US authorities have said. The freed hostages are Eduard Ohanesian, a correspondent for the Romania Libera newspaper, Marie Jeanne Ion, a journalist with Prima TV, her cameraman Sorin Miscoci, and their guide Mohamed Munaf. [12:38 GMT 23/05/2005]

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