Eight killed in Iraq attacks
BAGHDAD: At least eight people were killed in violence across Iraq on Thursday, including a regional criminal investigations chief and two other police officers in an ambush north of Baghdad, security sources said.
“Lt Col Hussein Ismail was killed around midday along with two of his guards as they were driving in the centre of Baladruz,” east of Baquba, said a national guard officer.
In Baquba itself, two Khalas town council members were killed in a gun attack while a national guard captain died in a car bomb attack in the same area.
Two others were wounded when gunmen stormed the home of Iyad Ibrahim al-Karawi, an ex-general in the disbanded army of ousted president Saddam Hussein, his son said.
A local woman official for Salahuddin province, Damaher Shaker Sudani, was kidnapped by gunmen near Baiji, as a hospital director was wounded after he was shot five times as he drove home in Hilla, south of Baghdad, police said.
South of Baghdad, an Iraqi national guard captain was killed after being attacked by armed men near Karbala. In the capital, one person was killed and 11 wounded when mortar shells slammed into a central neighbourhood, hospital officials and witnesses said.
Several rockets also exploded around the fortified “Green Zone” — home to Iraqq’s interim government and foreign embassies, chiefly the US and British missions. US President George W Bush said on Thursday that Iraq elections, set for January 30, should not be put back despite deadly chaos that may compromise their legitimacy.
“The elections should not be postponed. It’s time for the Iraqi citizens to go to the polls, and that’s why we are very firm on the January 30th date,” he said at the White House.
Bush said he had ordered US forces in Iraq to their highest levels since last year’s invasion at the request of US commanders and for the purpose of increasing security as the election draws closer.
“I have always said that I will listen to the requests of our commanders on the ground, and our commanders requested some troops delay their departure home and the expedition of the other troops to help these elections go forward. And I honoured their request,” he told reporters.
US force levels will climb from 138,000 to about 150,000 by early January, extending tours of duty and deploying fresh troops from the US, according to a US military commander in Iraq.
Iraq’s electoral commission on Thursday granted political parties from the country’s Sunni Muslim minority another extended deadline to announce their candidacy in the January 30 general elections.
Close to 70 Sunni organisations have threatened to boycott the vote, arguing that any election should be held only after foreign troops leave Iraq.
“Responding to requests from individuals and political parties from the provinces of Salaheddin, Al-Anbar and Mosul, it has been decided to make December 15 the final date for registering political entities,” said commission spokesman Farid Ayar.
The deadline was initially set for November 22, but was extended to Thursday in a gesture to Sunni parties, before being extended once more. A car bomb exploded on Thursday outside the offices of Iraqi mobile phone firm Iraqna in central Baghdad, witnesses said. A suicide bomber blew up his car at an Iraqi national guard checkpoint west of the town of Baiji on Thursday, killing himself and a civilian and wounding two guardsmen, police 1st Lt Faris al-Jubouri said. agencies