Allawi Says Violence May Impede Voters

By Jackie Spinner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 12, 2005

BAGHDAD, Jan. 11 -- Attacks by insurgents across Iraq killed 19 people Tuesday, including six police officers in the northern city of Tikrit and seven travelers just south of Baghdad.

As violence continued, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said the lack of security in some parts of the country could prevent voters from participating in elections scheduled for Jan. 30. "Certainly, there will be some pockets that will not be able to participate in the elections for these reasons, but we think that it will not be widespread," Allawi said at a news conference.

In a speech to Iraqi police in Baghdad, however, Allawi stressed that the security situation was improving. "We don't say we have completely succeeded to maintain security in Iraq," he said. "We say there are notable achievements in chasing the criminals."

Allawi said Iraqi security forces were playing an important role in stopping violence.

"There is improvement in the security situation," he said. "But regretfully, there are still problems . . . and there is insistence from enemy powers who want to hurt Iraq. We are committed to building up the Iraqi security forces and our military forces as soon as possible."

Insurgents have stepped up attacks on Iraqi and American security forces in the run-up to the elections, a period that Iraqi and U.S. officials have warned could be particularly violent.

In Tikrit, the home town of toppled president Saddam Hussein, insurgents attacked with car bombs and rockets in three separate incidents, witnesses said. The six officers were killed when a car bomb exploded in front of a headquarters building as a police convoy passed by about 8:55 a.m.

In a second attack, insurgents fired rockets at a traffic police command post next door. One of the police officers, Muhsin Hussein, said rockets fell in front of the command post just moments after the car bomb blast. "One exploded in an open yard, and the other one fell at the gate but did not explode," he said.

The third attack, which also involved rockets, took place in Tikrit's Celebration Park as a brigade of National Guardsmen was gathering. No one was hurt.

In the volatile northern city of Samarra, a roadside bomb killed two National Guardsmen in a U.S.-Iraqi convoy, police said. A second bomb killed a policeman, and a third killed two more guardsmen, the Reuters news agency reported.

South of Baghdad, meanwhile, assailants killed at least seven people in a minibus, according to police and hospital sources. The victims were traveling in Yusufiyah, 10 miles south of Baghdad, when the attack occurred, said the director of the town's hospital, Dawoud Taie, according to the Associated Press.

A U.S. Marine was killed in volatile Anbar province, west of Baghdad, the Marines said in a statement. No other details were released.

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