142 Iraqis die in attacks


Summary

The Iraqi Accordance Front's withdrawal from the Iraqi Cabinet cast doubt on the government's "national unity" status and undermined Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to pull together rival factions and pass reconciliation laws the US considers benchmarks for success.

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VIDEO: US troop dissatisfaction

Attacks

The American military announced it had found a mass grave in Diyala province northeast of the capital.

It contained 17 bodies of mostly Sunni Muslims – including women, children and elderly people – killed by al-Qaeda, the military said in a statement.

Altogether at least 142 Iraqis were killed or found dead, including 70 in three separate bombings in Baghdad.

Today's deadliest attack occurred when a fuel tanker was exploded near a gas station in western Baghdad's primarily Sunni Mansour neighbourhood.

At least 50 people died and 60 were wounded, police said. Two police officers said the explosion was the work of a suicide attacker.

Earlier, a parked car bomb killed 17 civilians and left a gaping, one metre-deep crater in a busy square in central Baghdad, police said.

At least 32 people were wounded by the blast.

The US military announced the deaths of four more American soldiers, including three killed in Baghdad yesterday by a powerful armour-piercing bomb, while in London the Ministry of Defence reported a British soldier also was killed yesterday in a roadside bombing.

The violence came after July ended as the second-deadliest month for Iraqis so far this year, but with the lowest US death toll in eight months.

Sunni’s resignation

Washington has been pushing al-Maliki's government to pass key laws – among them, measures to share national oil revenues and incorporate some ousted Baathists into mainstream politics.

But the Sunni ministers' resignation from the Cabinet foreshadowed even greater difficulty in building consensus when parliament returns after month-long summer recess.

Ultimatum expired

Rafaa al-Issawi, a leading member of the Front, said the decision to pull out of government was sealed by what he called al-Maliki's failure to respond to a set of demands put forward by the Accordance Front last week.

At the time, the Sunni bloc gave the prime minister seven days to meet its demands – an ultimatum that expired today.

Among the demands: the release of security detainees not charged with specific crimes, the disbanding of militias and the participation of all groups represented in the government in dealing with security issues.

The Accordance Front has 44 of parliament's 275 seats, and those politicians will continue in the legislature.

Its withdrawal of its six Cabinet ministers from the 14-month-old government is the second such action by a faction of al-Maliki's coalition.

Five Cabinet ministers loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr quit the government in April to protest al-Maliki's refusal to announce a timetable for the pullout of US forces from Iraq.

Al-Maliki's office expressed regret over today's withdrawal and said it was open to communicating with the Accordance Front and other parties.

US reaction

In Washington, White House press secretary Tony Snow said that while it was important for all political blocs to participate, reconciliation efforts were ongoing and Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and the minister of defence – both Sunnis – remained in place.

"We're keeping an eye on the situation, but let's keep in mind that it is not a complete withdrawal from the political process," Mr Snow said.

But earlier, the Front's leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, confirmed that was the case.


The Iraqi Accordance Front's withdrawal from the Iraqi Cabinet cast doubt on the government's "national unity" status and undermined Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to pull together rival factions and pass reconciliation laws the US considers benchmarks for success.

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VIDEO: US troop dissatisfaction

Attacks

The American military announced it had found a mass grave in Diyala province northeast of the capital.

It contained 17 bodies of mostly Sunni Muslims – including women, children and elderly people – killed by al-Qaeda, the military said in a statement.

Altogether at least 142 Iraqis were killed or found dead, including 70 in three separate bombings in Baghdad.

Today's deadliest attack occurred when a fuel tanker was exploded near a gas station in western Baghdad's primarily Sunni Mansour neighbourhood.

At least 50 people died and 60 were wounded, police said. Two police officers said the explosion was the work of a suicide attacker.

Earlier, a parked car bomb killed 17 civilians and left a gaping, one metre-deep crater in a busy square in central Baghdad, police said.

At least 32 people were wounded by the blast.

The US military announced the deaths of four more American soldiers, including three killed in Baghdad yesterday by a powerful armour-piercing bomb, while in London the Ministry of Defence reported a British soldier also was killed yesterday in a roadside bombing.

The violence came after July ended as the second-deadliest month for Iraqis so far this year, but with the lowest US death toll in eight months.

Sunni’s resignation

Washington has been pushing al-Maliki's government to pass key laws – among them, measures to share national oil revenues and incorporate some ousted Baathists into mainstream politics.

But the Sunni ministers' resignation from the Cabinet foreshadowed even greater difficulty in building consensus when parliament returns after month-long summer recess.

Ultimatum expired

Rafaa al-Issawi, a leading member of the Front, said the decision to pull out of government was sealed by what he called al-Maliki's failure to respond to a set of demands put forward by the Accordance Front last week.

At the time, the Sunni bloc gave the prime minister seven days to meet its demands – an ultimatum that expired today.

Among the demands: the release of security detainees not charged with specific crimes, the disbanding of militias and the participation of all groups represented in the government in dealing with security issues.

The Accordance Front has 44 of parliament's 275 seats, and those politicians will continue in the legislature.

Its withdrawal of its six Cabinet ministers from the 14-month-old government is the second such action by a faction of al-Maliki's coalition.

Five Cabinet ministers loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr quit the government in April to protest al-Maliki's refusal to announce a timetable for the pullout of US forces from Iraq.

Al-Maliki's office expressed regret over today's withdrawal and said it was open to communicating with the Accordance Front and other parties.

US reaction

In Washington, White House press secretary Tony Snow said that while it was important for all political blocs to participate, reconciliation efforts were ongoing and Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and the minister of defence – both Sunnis – remained in place.

"We're keeping an eye on the situation, but let's keep in mind that it is not a complete withdrawal from the political process," Mr Snow said.

But earlier, the Front's leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, confirmed that was the case.