24 killed in Iraq violence
* Militants renew threat to US hostage
* Zarqawi aide, US soldier killed
* US copter crashes
BAGHDAD: Twenty-four people were killed and more than 100 wounded in a car bomb attack and other violence in Iraq on Wednesday.
Naim al-Qaabi, an official from Moqtada Sadr’s movement, said 15 people were killed and 52 wounded in an apparent push by the US military to reclaim parts of the Shia stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad.
A suicide car bomb targeting Iraqis queuing up to join the national guard ripped through a busy shopping area in the heart of Baghdad on Wednesday morning, police and witnesses said.
“A suicide car bomb rammed into a group of people gathered to sign up for the Iraqi national guard”, a police officer said.
Medical sources at the Yarmuk Hospital said at least six people were killed and 54 wounded in the attack. Fresh fighting in the Sunni stronghold of Haifa Street in Baghdad erupted overnight, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties.
Clashes between US forces and insurgents near Samarra, north of Baghdad, on Wednesday killed two Iraqis and another two were killed when an American aircraft bombed a house in the area, police said. Iraqi insurgents killed a US soldier in a roadside bomb attack near Saddam Hussein’s former hometown of Tikrit on Wednesday, the US military said. A top aide to suspected Al Qaeda operative Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi has been killed in a US attack near Baghdad, an internet site and a Jordanian newspaper reported on Wednesday.
“Abu Anas al-Shami, who heads Tawhid wal Jihad’s Sharia (Islamic law) department, was killed a week ago in an American attack on his car in Abu Ghraib,” west of the capital, according to a website. A US Black Hawk helicopter crashed shortly after takeoff in southern Iraq, wounding three crew members, a spokesman for the US military said on Wednesday. The spokesman said the military was investigating what caused the helicopter to go down on Tuesday night near the city of Nassiriya, 375 km south of Baghdad.
“The three crew members sustained minor injuries. The aircraft was severely damaged,” the spokesman said.
An Al Qaeda-linked group in Iraq holding Briton Kenneth Bigley has renewed a threat to kill the hostage unless his government meets the kidnappers’ demands, according to an internet statement Wednesday.
The group, which is linked to al-Zarqawi, has already killed two Americans abducted along with Bigley from their Baghdad home last Thursday. The abductors had threatened to kill the trio if Iraqi women prisoners in coalition jails in Abu Ghraib and Umm al-Qasr were not freed. The US embassy in Baghdad said Wednesday it received a body from Iraqi authorities, without saying whether it belonged to one of two US hostages killed by a militant group in Iraq. “A body was founded and handed over to us today,” said an embassy official, declining to identify the body.
An internet statement late Tuesday attributed to the Tawhid wal Jihad group said it had beheaded US national Jack Hensley, the day after it showed a graphic video of the execution of his colleague Eugene “Jack” Armstrong. agencies