Attacks in Baghdad Kill 16, Including 5 Children

A policeman passes a vehicle damaged in a Baghdad blast. Four officers died.
A policeman passes a vehicle damaged in a Baghdad blast. Four officers died. (By Hadi Mizban -- Associated Press)
By Nelson Hernandez
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 16, 2006

BAGHDAD, Feb. 15 -- As Iraqi politicians debated the formation of a government on Wednesday, a wave of gun and bomb attacks killed at least 16 people in the capital, including five children.

Three children were killed and two wounded when a bomb exploded outside the Karama primary school in the Saydiyah neighborhood of southeastern Baghdad, said Gen. Salman Hassan Shammari of the Iraqi police. A second roadside bomb killed two children and wounded four more in the Fadhl neighborhood, he said. It was unclear who detonated the bombs or why.

Six police officers and a civilian were killed in separate attacks in Baghdad, and in what has become an almost daily event, police found the bodies of four Iraqis who had been handcuffed and shot in the head. U.S. troops also killed four insurgents in three separate gun battles on Tuesday and Wednesday, U.S. military authorities said in a statement.

The bloodshed took place against a backdrop of continued political maneuvering among Iraq's Shiite, Sunni Arab, Kurdish and secular parties. Negotiations over the formation of a new government have intensified now that the Shiite Muslim religious coalition with the most seats in parliament has nominated Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari to a new, four-year term.

One of the most influential leaders in the Shiite alliance said he sought to form a government based on the cooperation of Iraq's ethnic and sectarian groups.

"The next government will be formed from consensus," Abdul Aziz Hakim, the leader of the powerful Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, said at a news conference in Najaf on Wednesday night. "There are no red lines."

Hakim's statement could assuage fears, particularly among the country's Sunni Arab minority, that the Shiite majority will shut others out of the government.

Sunni politicians have said that one of their most important goals is to gain control of either the Defense or Interior ministries -- a way, they say, to rein in abuses of Sunnis by the country's Shiite-led police force.

American officials would like to see the positions filled by competent leaders who have "cross-sectarian credibility," a U.S. official said Wednesday.

The official, who provided a background briefing to reporters on the condition that he not be named, said he had observed a "broad sense" among Iraqi politicians that a government of national unity was crucial to ending the country's violence.

He noted that addressing the accusations of abuses against Sunnis would be one of the most important things to deal with as politicians form the new government. "Human rights are at the top of our list of issues that we talk to people about here," the official said. "It has been and will remain a top priority for us here."

Special correspondents Bassam Sebti in Baghdad and Saad Sarhan in Najaf contributed to this report.

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