Gunmen disguised as soldiers murder 29 Iraqis
Gunmen dressed in Iraqi military uniforms stormed a village in the restive Iraqi province of Diyala, north-east of Baghdad, overnight and murdered 29 people, security officials said on Tuesday.
And insurgents continued to carry out attacks in the capital, setting off two car bombs in Baghdad, including one near the Iranian embassy that killed four people and wounded two more, they said.
Armed men stormed Duwailiyah village and killed men, women and children, Colonel Raghib Rawi al-Omaili, spokesperson for the Iraqi military in Diyala, said.
“Twenty-nine villagers were killed and four were wounded in the terrorist attack on the village of Duwailiyah,” he said, adding that the victims included women and children.
“The gunmen were wearing Iraqi military uniforms to confuse the victims.”
The attack was grimly reminiscent of a similar assault in May in the remote village of Qara Lus in the same province, when gunmen disguised as soldiers dragged 16 villagers from their homes and shot them dead.
Diyala, the second most dangerous region in Iraq after Baghdad, is currently the target of a major United States-led operation focused largely on the provincial capital of Baquba.
But as troops have pushed through the city, militants appear to have fled to the hinterlands, carrying out blistering attacks against remote towns and villages.
On July 7, a suicide truck bomb in the remote village of Emerli just north of the province killed more than 150 people and wounded hundreds in one of the deadliest attacks since the start of the Iraq war in 2003.
Militants continue to carry out daily attacks in more populous parts of Iraq.
A car bomb exploded in a parking lot near the Iranian embassy, killing at least four people and wounding two more, Brigadier General Qassim Atta, spokesperson for the Baghdad security plan, told state television.
Another suicide car bombing of an Iraqi army patrol in the upscale central Zayuna neighbourhood killed seven people and wounded eight, a medic said.
Elsewhere in Iraq, another five people were killed, including a judge who was shot dead in the northern town of Balad, security officials said.
Meanwhile, in the latest massive assault following a surge of reinforcements into Baghdad and surrounding areas, more than 9 000 US and Iraqi troops, led by marines, flooded into the western Sunni Anbar province.
Operation Mawtini began on Sunday and aims to “neutralise any future attempts by anti-Iraqi forces to re-establish a presence in key urban areas along the Euphrates valley”, the military said.
“We anticipate that the terrorists will attempt to step up their attacks in the urban areas to regain power and influence over the population,” Colonel Stacy Clardy in Anbar said in a statement.
Since the arrival of 28 000 extra troops as part of a “surge” announced by US President George Bush, the military has been carrying out simultaneous operations across Iraq to try to make the country governable.
Iraq’s embattled Parliament received a boost on Tuesday as the hard-line Shi’ite faction loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ended a month-old boycott.
The 32-member bloc had walked out on June 7 after the bombing of the revered Shi’ite al-Askari shrine in the Sunni town of Samarra in central Iraq.
In the north, mass funerals were held in the oil city of Kirkuk for the victims of a truck bomb and two car bombs that killed 85 people on Monday.
A suicide bomber slammed his explosives-laden truck into the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of Iraq’s two main Kurdish parties, unleashing a deadly wave of carnage in the divided oil city.
On Tuesday dozens of men collected the charred bodies of their relatives from local morgues as grief-stricken women beat their chests and collected the victims’ belongings.
A Sunni tribesman Sheikh Ismail al-Hadidi said the explosions are “meant to incite sectarianism among the people of Kirkuk”.
Kurdish leaders want to absorb Kirkuk into their autonomous northern region despite stiff opposition from the city’s Arab and Turkmen residents.
Tensions have heightened ahead of a possible referendum by the end of the year to decide Kirkuk’s fate.—AFP. .