Relative Calm in Iraq Ends as Attacks Take 16 Lives

Iraqi police officers pass U.S. troops at the site of a Baghdad car bombing.
Iraqi police officers pass U.S. troops at the site of a Baghdad car bombing. (By Karim Kadim -- Associated Press)
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By Zaid Sabah
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, July 7, 2008

BAGHDAD, July 6 -- A wave of attacks in Baghdad and areas north of the capital Sunday shattered a relative lull in violence, killing 16 people and injuring 15 a day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared that Iraq's government had defeated terrorism.

Also Sunday, the United Arab Emirates announced that it was canceling $4 billion in debt owed by Iraq and restoring full diplomatic relations with the Iraqi government, according to the UAE's official news agency. It was the latest sign that Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors are easing their diplomatic isolation of Iraq's Shiite-led government, after considerable pressure from the United States.

The action coincided with Maliki's visit to the Emirates, which had withdrawn its ambassador to Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, following the kidnapping of one of its diplomats, who was later released. Maliki again stressed that Iraq was becoming more stable.

"Our hopes were restricted on improving the security situation, and thank God we succeed in spreading security and direct strong blows to the al-Qaeda and lawbreakers," Maliki told senior officials in the Emirates.

Six people were killed in the deadliest attack Sunday, a car bombing in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad. Police said the bomb was detonated by remote control in a popular market. "There still are some sleeping cells operating from time to time, but that doesn't change the fact of the improvement in the security situation," said Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim al-Izzi, a police commander. "Now you can see shops in Baghdad open until late hours at night, unlike before, when they were closing at noon."

In Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed a high-ranking member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, along with seven other people, said Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim al-Rubaie, Diyala military operations commander. The incident occurred in the town of Mandily, 60 miles east of Baqubah, the provincial capital.

Rubaie said two civilians were killed in Baqubah when police clashed with members of the U.S.-backed Awakening Councils, former insurgents who have turned their weapons against the extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The province is still considered one of the most dangerous areas in Iraq, despite several major offensives by U.S. and Iraqi forces over the past two years. The Kurdish official was the second senior Iraqi political official killed in as many days. On Friday, in the southern oil-rich province of Basra, gunmen fatally shot Sheik Salim al-Darraji, a member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, one of the most influential Shiite parties, police and officials said.

Special correspondent Aahad Ali in Basra and other Washington Post staff members contributed to this report.


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