Mosul Insurgents Are Offered Cash for Arms

Iraqi forces patrol Mosul as part of an operation to detain insurgents in Nineveh province. Several hundred suspects were reported seized this week.
Iraqi forces patrol Mosul as part of an operation to detain insurgents in Nineveh province. Several hundred suspects were reported seized this week. (Associated Press)

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By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, May 17, 2008

BAGHDAD, May 16 -- Iraqi officials on Friday gave insurgents in the northern city of Mosul a 10-day amnesty period to turn in weapons for cash payouts, the government's latest effort to regain control of the largest insurgent stronghold in Iraq.

The offer came nearly a week after the government launched an operation dubbed Lion's Roar as an effort to detain insurgents who sought haven in Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province in recent months as they were driven out of Baghdad and other provinces.

U.S. military officials said several hundred suspected insurgents have been detained in Nineveh this week.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who traveled to Mosul on Wednesday to assess the operation, did not specify the amount of money the government would pay in exchange for weapons. His office said in a statement that large and medium weapons would be accepted.

Maliki asked residents for their "cooperation with the armed forces . . . to save the province from the evil of the insurgent groups and the former regime's thugs."

Meanwhile, in the western city of Fallujah, a suspected insurgent drove a truck rigged with explosives into a police station, killing a 2-month-old girl and wounding five policemen and seven civilians, Iraqi police officials said.

The attack was the latest in a string of suicide bombings in Anbar province, a former insurgent stronghold where security has improved in recent months as residents have mobilized against extremists.

The truck crashed into the Hareth police station about 2:30 p.m., said Capt. Hameed al-Jumaily, the station's chief. Police officials said al-Qaeda in Iraq, the country's largest insurgent group, was probably responsible for the bombing because some of its members are being held at the station.

The attack came two days after a suicide bombing at the funeral of an uncle of the city's police chief, a former insurgent who had turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Fallujah residents expressed fear that the security gains in that city might be eroding.

"What happened in Fallujah today brought us back to a hateful history we are hoping to forget about," said Huda Jassim, 30, a teacher. "We are now scared of al-Qaeda returning."

Saed Khalid, 32, a government employee, said residents and members of the city's security forces are on edge.

"This is the second blast in our area within 48 hours," he said. "I think al-Qaeda is trying to open a new front in Fallujah to ease the pressure on its men in Mosul."

Special correspondents Uthman al-Mokhtar in Fallujah and K.I. Ibrahim and Zaid Sabah in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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