Café bomb targets Kurds, Iraq


Summary

The blast ripped through the coffee shop near a market of Iranian goods in the village of Ahmad Maref, 140 kilometres northeast of Baghdad today, says an official at the joint security coordination committee of Diyala province.

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At least 33 people were wounded, says the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The village is home to about 30 Kurdish families who had been expelled under Saddam Hussein's rule and returned after his fall.

Many Kurds in the area are Shi'ite Muslims.

US offensive in region

The village lies in the remote end of Diyala, a province where US forces have been waging two offensives since mid-June.

The sweeps aim to close off an escape route for insurgents fleeing a security crackdown in Baghdad and to uproot al-Qaeda militants and other fighters who use the region as a staging ground for attacks in the capital.

Although violence appears to have eased somewhat in Baghdad in past months as US forces stepped up security operations, Diyala has continued to see heavy attacks.

22 killed in separate attack

Meanwhile, a suicide truck bomb has killed at least 22 people in a northern Iraqi village market, a police commander says.

Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Ali Rasheed, deputy chief of police in the northern town of Tuz Khurmatu, said the blast brought down houses and had devastated the heart of Emerli, a small community from Iraq's Shi'ite Turkoman minority.

"There are around 40 wounded.

“Some of the houses collapsed on people, and more may be trapped inside," another officer, Captain Nuzad Abdallah, says.

‘Militant hanged’

An alleged al-Qaeda militant, meanwhile, was executed for his role in one of Iraq's first major bombings, an August 2003 blast that killed a Shi'ite leader and 84 other people and foreshadowed the four-year insurgency that followed, a Justice Ministry official says.

Oras Mohammed Abdul-Aziz was hanged Tuesday in Baghdad after being sentenced to death in October, Ministry Undersecretary Busho Ibrahim says.

The execution announcement was the first word that a suspect had been tried in the killing of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack – a huge car bomb that went off outside the Shrine of Ali in Najaf, one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest sites, and killed Mr al-Hakim.

Mr Al-Hakim was the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and was poised to become a major figure in Iraqi politics following Saddam's fall.


The blast ripped through the coffee shop near a market of Iranian goods in the village of Ahmad Maref, 140 kilometres northeast of Baghdad today, says an official at the joint security coordination committee of Diyala province.

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At least 33 people were wounded, says the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The village is home to about 30 Kurdish families who had been expelled under Saddam Hussein's rule and returned after his fall.

Many Kurds in the area are Shi'ite Muslims.

US offensive in region

The village lies in the remote end of Diyala, a province where US forces have been waging two offensives since mid-June.

The sweeps aim to close off an escape route for insurgents fleeing a security crackdown in Baghdad and to uproot al-Qaeda militants and other fighters who use the region as a staging ground for attacks in the capital.

Although violence appears to have eased somewhat in Baghdad in past months as US forces stepped up security operations, Diyala has continued to see heavy attacks.

22 killed in separate attack

Meanwhile, a suicide truck bomb has killed at least 22 people in a northern Iraqi village market, a police commander says.

Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Ali Rasheed, deputy chief of police in the northern town of Tuz Khurmatu, said the blast brought down houses and had devastated the heart of Emerli, a small community from Iraq's Shi'ite Turkoman minority.

"There are around 40 wounded.

“Some of the houses collapsed on people, and more may be trapped inside," another officer, Captain Nuzad Abdallah, says.

‘Militant hanged’

An alleged al-Qaeda militant, meanwhile, was executed for his role in one of Iraq's first major bombings, an August 2003 blast that killed a Shi'ite leader and 84 other people and foreshadowed the four-year insurgency that followed, a Justice Ministry official says.

Oras Mohammed Abdul-Aziz was hanged Tuesday in Baghdad after being sentenced to death in October, Ministry Undersecretary Busho Ibrahim says.

The execution announcement was the first word that a suspect had been tried in the killing of Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack – a huge car bomb that went off outside the Shrine of Ali in Najaf, one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest sites, and killed Mr al-Hakim.

Mr Al-Hakim was the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and was poised to become a major figure in Iraqi politics following Saddam's fall.