By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 14, 2006
BAGHDAD, Dec. 13 -- Car bombings and other attacks across the capital on Wednesday killed at least 34 people, as U.S. and Iraqi leaders said they would step up efforts to give Iraqi forces more control of the country's security.
The deadliest blast targeted a group of men waiting for temporary work in the mostly Shiite Kamaliya neighborhood of southeast Baghdad. It killed eight day laborers and injured 13, including three police officers, said Lt. Col. Muhsin Saeed, an Interior Ministry official. The day before, a car bomb killed 70 day laborers and injured more than 230 about a mile from the fortified Green Zone.
The spate of car bombings came as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, under pressure to stop sectarian warfare and attacks by insurgents, promised greater security. In a meeting in Baghdad with a U.S. congressional delegation headed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Maliki said Iraqi troops should be given control of the country's security as soon as possible, his office said.
Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, told reporters that the U.S. military was just as eager to transfer authority to Iraqi forces. He also said that Maliki would increase his forces by about 40,000, to 355,000.
In a searing indictment of U.S. war strategy in Iraq, a bipartisan panel co-chaired by former secretary of state James A. Baker III called for the pullout of most American troops by 2008. In order for that to happen, the panel said, U.S. forces would have to switch from a focus on combat to the training and advising of Iraqi troops and police officers.
Caldwell said more American troops would be embedded with Iraqi forces as advisers and trainers. Iraqis "need forces that can run complex operations against terrorist and criminal elements, and the best way for Iraqi security forces to enhance these capabilities is through the mentorship and partnership of our coalition transition teams," Caldwell said.
Events on Wednesday underscored the complexity of problems that Iraqi forces may someday face on their own.
In the mixed New Baghdad district in the southwest part of the capital, two car bombs exploded simultaneously, killing 12 people, including two police officers, and wounding 13, among them three policemen, said an Interior Ministry official who refused to be identified further because he is not authorized to speak publicly.
The U.S. military said that two explosions occurred on a street near the Sunni al-Samouri mosque in New Baghdad, but that there was no damage. The military did not say whether there were casualties.
Earlier in the day, the military said, a car bomb was detonated across the street from the Shiite Kamaliya mosque in New Baghdad. The military did not disclose any casualty figures.
Police officers also fell victim to roadside bombs. One exploded at the Amil-Bayya intersection in west Baghdad, killing three people, including a policeman, and injuring five others, an Interior Ministry official said.
Another roadside bomb targeting a police patrol in the Illam neighborhood in southwest Baghdad killed two police officers and wounded three, the official said.
Armed men killed three members of one family when they blew up a house in the mostly Shiite neighborhood of Dora in south Baghdad, the official said. In a separate incident, armed men fired on a car in the mostly Sunni Adel neighborhood in west Baghdad, killing five passengers.
A mortar shell killed one person and wounded six when it fell in the Baladiat district of east Baghdad, Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Kareem al-Kinani said.
Relatives and friends buried an AP Television News cameraman on Wednesday, a day after he was killed by insurgents while covering clashes in northern Iraq, the Associated Press reported.
Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah, 35, was having his car repaired in the eastern part of Mosul when insurgents and police began fighting nearby and he rushed to cover the clash.
Insurgents spotted him filming and shot him, police Brig. Abdul-Karim Ahmed Khalaf said.
Special correspondent Waleed Saffar and other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.