By Naseer Nouri and Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service and Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, December 21, 2007
BAGHDAD, Dec. 20 -- A suicide bomber strapped with explosives struck a group of American soldiers standing outside a city council meeting north of Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least six people, including one of the soldiers, and marring the celebrations of a major Muslim holiday.
The midday explosion was a painful reminder of the dangers that persist in many parts of Iraq, and that remain particularly potent in volatile Diyala province. The blast, which took place east of the provincial capital of Baqubah, in the small tribal village of Kanaan, killed at least five Iraqis and wounded a sixth, as well as injuring 10 U.S. soldiers, according to U.S. military officials.
Capt. Qasim Ibrahim Muhammad, an Iraqi police official in Kanaan, said the bombing took place outside a building where Sunni men were volunteering for the local defense forces that have become so prevalent. He said 10 Iraqis were killed and eight were wounded.
These predominantly Sunni defense forces have come under increasing attack because of their alignment with American soldiers against insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq. In Diyala, some of the volunteers are former members of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a Sunni insurgent group that has fought street battles against al-Qaeda in Iraq.
A spokesman for the volunteers in Diyala, Farhan al-Buhrizawi, said a leader of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, Naseer al-Maamouri, along with his bodyguard and driver, was found shot dead Thursday in Baqubah. They had been kidnapped the night before, he said.
The violence came as Sunnis in Iraq celebrated Eid al-Adha, a holiday commemorating Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. Many Shiites begin celebrating Eid on Friday. Iraqi police said at least five people were killed in Baghdad bombings, but the bloodshed so far has paled in comparison with last year's Eid, when the hanging of Saddam Hussein was followed by widespread killing.
Also in Diyala province, the U.S. military said that during a four-day operation this month, American soldiers killed 24 suspected insurgents, detained 37 other people and found stores of weapons, mass graves and a site they believed was used for torturing prisoners.
The soldiers found the remains of 26 people in "multiple mass graves next to execution sites," the U.S. military said in a statement. They found a "torture complex" of three buildings that had "chains on the walls and ceilings, a bed still hooked up to an electrical system, and several blood-stained items."
The statement said al-Qaeda in Iraq was responsible for the torture chambers.
Other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.