By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, January 21, 2008
BAGHDAD, Jan. 20 -- A 13-year-old boy wearing an explosives-packed vest blew himself up Sunday among a group of tribal leaders in the western province of Anbar, becoming one of the youngest suicide bombers since the U.S.-led invasion, Iraqi police said.
The explosion killed at least three other people and wounded eight in the city of Fallujah, according to local police Capt. Jasim Faiyadh.
Faiyadh said the boy was the son of one of the five most-wanted leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni insurgent group that U.S. officials say is led by foreigners.
The attack targeted a meeting of leaders from the Anbar Awakening Council, a U.S.-supported group that has turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq. A tribal chief, Hadi Hussein al-Isawi, was among those killed, police and Fallujah hospital officials said.
Five of the wounded were in critical condition, said Mohammed al-Ani, a doctor at the hospital.
The explosion was one of the deadliest attacks in Anbar since the council drove most al-Qaeda in Iraq fighters out of the province last year.
Meanwhile, near the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, gunmen in a sedan opened fire on a checkpoint manned by U.S.-supported tribesmen battling al-Qaeda in Iraq, said police Col. Yadkar Abdullah. The attack, in the town of Hawijah, west of Kirkuk, killed a tribesman and wounded three others, he said.
In the holy Shiite city of Najaf, an operation has been launched to investigate the deadly attacks last week in southern Iraq that killed more than 70 people.
Ahmad Deabil, a government spokesman in Najaf, said 45 detainees from the Soldiers of Heaven, the obscure Shiite sect that staged the attacks, had been moved from the southern cities of Basra and Nasiriyah to Najaf. Thirteen of the captured men were religious leaders from Najaf, Deabil said. One of them was Hassan al-Hamami, the son of a revered Shiite cleric who died years ago.
Deabil said the investigation has revealed that the group is supported by Arab countries neighboring Iraq that he declined to identify.
Special correspondent Saad Sarhan in Najaf and Washington Post staff in Fallujah, Mosul and Kirkuk contributed to this report.