|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
General, clerics shot in Iraq
Bassem Mroue in Baghdad | May 18, 2005 18:58 IST
The attack came after Iran's foreign minister pledged to secure his country's borders to stop militants from entering Iraq, and as Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari prepared for his first foreign trip to neighboring Turkey.
Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Khamas was shot and killed by four gunmen in a four-door sedan as he drove through Baghdad's southeastern Zaafaraniyah district, police Col. Nouri Abdullah said. Khamas' wife and driver were wounded in the attack, he added.
In an Internet statement, al-Qaeda in Iraq, the group run by Jordanian terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, purportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, describing Khamas as "one of the heads of apostasy, and one of America's tails."
The authenticity of the claim, posted on a site that carries similar statements, could not be verified.
Al-Zarqawi is Iraq's most-wanted terrorist and has a $25 million bounty on his head -- the same as for Osama bin Laden.
In the northern city of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, mortar attacks by insurgents killed two Iraqis and injured eight others, including seven schoolchildren, police and hospital officials said.
A car bomb also detonated in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, injuring 14 people --including two police officers. The car blew up as a three-car police convoy drove by in the city center, damaging all the vehicles, police Col. Mudhafar Muhammed said.
In Baghdad, a roadside bomb targeting an American military convoy driving through the eastern part of the city injured seven Iraqis, police Lt. Col. Ahmed Aboud Efait said. There were no reports of any American casualties, he added.
Gunmen also shot dead a transport ministry driver, Ali Mutib Sakr, in Sadr City, a predominantly Shia area in the eastern part of the capital, police Lt. Col. Shakir Wadi said.
The violence came a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, during a historic visit, said the "situation would have been much worse" in Iraq if Tehran were supporting the insurgency as the United States has claimed.
The Iranian envoy's visit comes at a time of spiraling violence fueled by foreign extremists and rival groups of Sunnis and Shiites.
US troops backed by helicopters battled scores of insurgents holed up in two houses in Mosul on Tuesday, and police commander Lt. Gen. Ahmad Mohammed Khalaf claimed 20 militants were killed when US aircraft destroyed the buildings.
The American military said it was unaware of any casualties.
Three Islamic clerics -- a Shiite and two Sunnis --were shot and killed in Baghdad, police said Tuesday, a day after Iraq's prime minister vowed to use an "iron fist" to end sectarian violence.
Another 17 Iraqis were killed Tuesday: two Iraqi officials in separate Baghdad drive-by shootings, six truck drivers delivering supplies to US forces north of the capital, a former member of Saddam's Baath Party and his three grown sons, three Mosul police officers and two soldiers in Baghdad.
An American soldier was killed and a second was wounded when a roadside bomb struck their patrol near Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, the military said.
At least 1,622 US military members have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.