Suicide bomber kills 18 in Iraq attack
* 34 bullet-riddled bodies found in Baghdad
* Four college students shot dead
FALLUJA: A suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of men waiting to sign up to join the police force in the Iraqi city of Falluja on Wednesday, killing at least 18 people, doctors said.
Violence has flared in mainly Sunni Arab Anbar province, with US and Iraqi forces killing over 100 insurgents over the past week in the capital, Ramadi, west of Falluja, and a suicide car bomber killing 10 in an attempt to assassinate the governor on Tuesday.
Police recovered 34 bullet-riddled bodies overnight of men shot dead in apparent sectarian killings in Baghdad, an interior ministry official said Wednesday. The official said 14 bodies were found in eastern Baghdad Wednesday, while 20 other corpses were recovered from various areas in the capital late Tuesday.
Hundreds of bullet-riddled bodies have been recovered across Iraq, mostly in Baghdad, of men killed in tit-for-tat sectarian killings since the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in February.
Four college students were shot dead in Baghdad’s notorious Al Dura neighbourhood Wednesday, an interior ministry official said. “Insurgents set up a checkpoint on the highway in Al Dura and stopped a minibus full of college students. They pulled four students out of the bus and shot them dead,” the official said.
In Falluja, 60 kilometres west of the capital, doctor Bilal Mahmoud said most of the 20 people wounded in the attack on the police recruits were in a critical condition. The insurgents have been shifting their focus from US and other foreign troops to Iraq’s new army and police force, although American soldiers are still dying at a rate of close to two a day. The large crowds drawn to recruiting centres are a common target. More than 80 people were killed in an attack on a police recruiting centre in Ramadi in January.
Iraqi parliament, which will soon vote on forming a government of national unity – seen as the best hope for ending the bloodshed – began its first normal business session since being elected in December.
But speaker Mahmoud Al Mashhadani deferred what was to have been the most important issue, the selection of a committee to review and amend the constitution, until after a new government is formed and approved by parliament. “I suggest waiting to form the constitutional committee until the forming of the next government and the situation stabilises because it is an important issue and needs more negotiation among the blocs,” he said.
Parliament, in which the once dominant Sunni minority is more fully represented since abandoning its boycott of the US-backed political process by voting in December, is due to sit again next Wednesday. Shia Prime Minister-designate Nuri Al Maliki has said he could have a cabinet line-up ready soon.
Minority Sunni Arabs say the constitution gives too much power to the majority Shias and want it changed, demanding they head the review committee. Maliki has said he hopes to announce a rainbow coalition to embrace Shias, Sunnis and Kurds, a step widely seen as vital to quelling the Sunni insurgency and mounting sectarian bloodshed involving guerrillas on all sides. He has 30 days from April 22 to present a list to the 275- member parliament for its approval. Agencies