BAGHDAD, Jan. 4 -- Insurgents on Tuesday assassinated the governor of Baghdad, the most senior official killed in Iraq since political authority was transferred to an interim government last summer.
Insurgents also killed four U.S. soldiers and a Marine in three separate attacks, eight Iraqi commandos and two others in a suicide bombing at a commando base in Baghdad, and three Iraqi troops in a roadside bombing northeast of the capital.
Iraqi security forces examine the bullet-riddled vehicle that carried the governor's guards. Haidary's convoy was attacked from several directions.
(Mohammed Khodor -- AP)
Iraq War Dead|
Total number of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq war as announced by the Pentagon yesterday:
In hostile actions: 1,049
In non-hostile actions: 286
Total fatalities include three civilian employees of the Defense Department.
A full list of casualties is available online at www.washingtonpost.com/nation
SOURCE: Defense Department's www.defenselink.mil/newsThe Washington Post
Video: Gunmen killed the governor of Baghdad province as his convoy passed through the Hurriyah neighborhood.
Video: Footage shot by Iraqi insurgents who claimed responsibility for an attack on the outskirts of Baghdad.
"The war's worse, the insurgency's worse," said a senior U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to talk candidly. "This is not going to be a short fight. Nobody should think it is."
The assessment reflected a new willingness among senior Iraqi and American officials to acknowledge that large tracts of the country remain beyond the control of their combined forces. More than three months ago, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi asserted during a visit to Washington that 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces were stable and largely peaceful. Now, in interviews, he routinely refers to the situation as "our catastrophe."
Iraq's Shiite Muslim-populated south and sections of the north populated by ethnic Kurds are stable and relatively secure. Their inhabitants are looking forward to elections scheduled for Jan. 30 that will give them significant power in Baghdad after decades of repression.
But daily spasms of violence persist in Iraq's midsection. Iraqi and U.S. officials acknowledge that attacks have become routine in the six central and northern provinces where Sunni Muslims -- the once-dominant minority whose power evaporated with the fall of Saddam Hussein -- reside in large numbers. Including Baghdad, the six provinces account for half of Iraq's territory and at least half of its 25 million people.
Iraq's interim president, Ghazi Yawar, told the Reuters news agency Tuesday that the United Nations should "stand up for their responsibilities and obligations" by assessing whether the election can be conducted on schedule. "On a logical basis, there are signs that it will be a tough call to hold the election," Yawar said in a rare departure from official assurances that the date of the vote remains firm.
Instability remains worst north and west of the capital, in the region known as the Sunni Triangle. A Marine was killed Tuesday in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, and a roadside bomb killed a soldier with the Army's 1st Infantry Division near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad.
Also in Baghdad, a massive roadside bomb killed three American soldiers and wounded two at 11 a.m., the military said. Names were withheld until families of the dead could be notified.
In far northern Nineveh province, where, as in Anbar, lack of security forced cancellation of voter registration last month, U.S. commanders this week doubled the force struggling to control Mosul. Officials, including Allawi, have hinted that an offensive on Iraq's third largest city is in the offing.
"We're going to do better in Mosul," one Western diplomat said.
At the same time, armored battalions of the 1st Cavalry Division last week rolled into the grimy towns south of Baghdad in an area of north Babil province that last year became so dangerous to travelers that Iraqis began to call it the "triangle of death."
New flash points glimmer on the horizon.
Richard L. Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, in recent days joined a variety of U.S. officials scrambling to dissuade Kurdish parties from sitting out the portion of the election that will seat a provincial council in Kirkuk, the oil-rich city claimed by Kurds, ethnic Turkmens and Arabs. On Tuesday, U.S. and Iraqi officials were attempting to hold together a compromise slate of candidates that would delay a showdown for the northern city by preserving a provisional status quo put in place by the U.S.-led occupation authority.