15 killed as plans unveiled to protect Iraqi voters
* Iraq says senior Zarqawi aide captured in Baghdad
BAGHDAD: At least 15 Iraqis have been killed in various attacks by insurgents since Wednesday night, Iraqi security officials said on Thursday as plans were unveiled to deploy 100,000 Iraqi forces to stave off a bloodbath on election day exactly a month from now.
Three border policemen were gunned down in Baquba, and the son of local police chief was kidnapped. In the capital, an Iraqi army officer was killed in the street. Four civilians were killed in an ambush at Shorgat, while further north two civilians were killed when a bomb exploded near their car. Two more Iraqis died when they tried to break through a national guard roadblock in Syniya, a woman was killed by a roadside bomb on the road between Baghdad and Balad and, in Samarra, a national guard was died in an ambush.
Unrest also hit the country’s infrastructure, with a mortar attack late Thursday igniting a fire at the Dura refinery in a southwest Baghdad suburb. The refinery feeds a power plant that provides electricity to the capital and surrounding areas. Masked gunmen also kidnapped two Lebanese businessmen from their home in Baghdad’s upscale Mansur neighbourhood.
The US military and Iraqi government officials said they were hoping that an increase in offensives against insurgents coupled with airtight security on January 30 would allow voting to go ahead nationwide despite fears of attacks.
US-led forces in Iraq have captured a senior member of the Al Qaeda-linked network led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a raid in Baghdad, the Iraqi government said on Thursday. It said Fadil Hussain Ahmed al-Kurdi was captured along with two other suspected insurgents. It said Kurdi, a 26-year-old Iraqi Kurd also known as Ridha, was the brother of Umar Baziyani, a Zarqawi lieutenant captured in May. agencies