56 Iraqis die in bombings, sectarian violence
BAGHDAD: At least 56 Iraqis died in violence on Thursday, including a car bombing that killed 25 people in the third major attack on a police lockup in three days.
A suicide car bomber detonated his explosives at the entrance to the Interior Ministry Major Crimes unit in Baghdad’s central Karradah district, killing 10 civilians and 15 policemen employed there, authorities said.
A second car bomb hit a market area outside a Shia Muslim mosque in the mostly mixed Shia-Sunni neighbourhood of Shurta in southwest Baghdad. At least six people were killed and more than 20 wounded, many of them children, police said. Roadside bombs targeting police patrols killed four others – two policemen and two bystanders – in Baghdad and at least one policeman in Iskandariyah. Police said dozens were wounded.
Another two policemen were killed and two were wounded when gunmen ambushed their convoy in north Baghdad, an attack that police said was an aborted attempt to free detainees who were being transferred to the northern city of Mosul.
Elsewhere throughout the capital, two police were killed in gun battles with insurgents and two civilians – a private contractor and power plant employee – were gunned down in drive-by shootings. Fourteen more bodies were found in the continuing string of shadowy sectarian killings: six in the capital and eight brought in by US forces to a hospital in Fallujah, 65 kilometres west of Baghdad, police said.
Back in the capital, a mortar round fell on a house wounding three civilians, police Lt Ziad Hassan said. Another civilian was seriously wounded by an Iraqi army patrol that was shooting in the air to clear traffic in the western neighbourhood of Yarmouk, police said.
In a lightning operation, US and British forces on Thursday rescued three Western hostages held captive in Iraq for almost four months. The three aid workers from the Christian Peacemaker Teams – Canadians Harmeet Sooden, 32, and Jim Loney, 41, and Briton Norman Kember, 74 – were found together in a house in western Baghdad. They were bound, but the house was otherwise empty and not a shot was fired. The raid was put together in just three hours after US forces obtained information from a detainee about the location of the hostages, US-led coalition spokesman Major General Rick Lynch told reporters. Their US colleague Tom Fox, seized with them in Baghdad on November 26, was slain two weeks ago and his body found dumped in the city. Agencies