Source Pravda.Ru

Gunmen assassinate brother of an Iraqi vice president; another U.S. service member dies

Gunmen killed the brother of Iraq's Shiite vice president and a top trade ministry official escaped assassination in another part of the capital, while the death toll in a major truck bombing the day before rose to 30. A U.S. Marine was fatally injured in another bombing.

Ghalib Abdul-Mahdi, brother of Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi, died along with his driver when a vehicle pulled alongside their car on bustling Palestine Street about 7:45 a.m. Sunday and gunmen inside opened fire. Ghalib Abdul-Mahdi was en route to Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's office, where he served as an adviser, two aides to the vice president said.

Later Sunday, a top official in the Ministry of Trade, Qais Dawood Hasan, was wounded and two of his bodyguards were killed when gunmen ambushed their convoy in the upscale Baghdad neighborhood of Mansour, scene of several high-profile kidnappings and armed attacks on government officials and foreigners. Five other bodyguards and a bystander were injured, police said.

The U.S. command also announced Sunday that a Marine died of injuries suffered the day before in a roadside bombing near Baghdad. At least 2,016 U.S. military members have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003.

Elsewhere, an Iraqi border guard was killed and seven other Iraqi security personnel were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle at a checkpoint in Sinjar near the border with Syria, Dr. Fadhil Abdul-Kareem said.

A roadside bomb destroyed one of several oil tanker trucks Sunday on a main road south of Baghdad, sending a fire ball up over the area and killing the two men inside, police Capt. Ibrahim Abdul-Ridha said. Four civilian passers-by were wounded.

A roadside bomb killed a farmer on his tractor and seriously wounded two other civilians in Samarra, 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Baghdad, police Capt. Laith Mohammed said. Another drive-by shooting in the capital killed two construction workers and wounded three.

A statement posted on an Islamic Web site claimed responsibility for the slaying of the vice president's brother in the name of Iraq's most dreaded terror group, al-Qaida in Iraq. The claim could not be verified. There was no claim for the attack on the trade ministry official.

Ghalib Abdul-Mahdi's brother is one of Iraq's two vice presidents _ one a Sunni and the other a Shiite _ and the killing appeared part of an escalating campaign of violence between members of the rival religious communities.

Late Sunday, police found the bodies of 11 unidentified men _ blindfolded, hands bound and with gunshots in the head _ in a village near Baghdad where Sunnis and Shiites clashed three days ago. Fourteen Shiite militiamen and one policeman were killed.

Sectarian hatred appeared to be behind Saturday's brutal truck bomb attack against Shiite civilians in the farming village of Huweder about 45 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad. The blast occurred about sundown when a bomb hidden in a truck packed with dates exploded in the center of the village.

The death toll from the attack rose Sunday to 30 when four more victims died of their injuries, according to Dr. Ahmed Fouad of the Baqouba General Hospital. Forty-one people remained hospitalized, he said.

Shiite civilians are frequent targets of Sunni extremists who consider members of the majority religious community to be heretics and American collaborators. Iraq's new security services are staffed mainly by Shiites and Kurds _ the two groups that were suppressed under ousted leader Saddam Hussein but dominate the current government.

In a statement Sunday, the Iraqi Islamic Party, a mostly Sunni Arab group, condemned the Huweder bombing, saying such bloodshed could trigger sectarian civil war. But the statement also alleged that a radical Shiite militia had been staging attacks against Sunnis in the same area, kidnapping dozens of Sunnis in recent days.

"The Iraqi Islamic Party condemns these acts and calls for national dialogue to thwart the attempts to cause sedition," the statement said.

As insurgents stepped up their attacks, U.S. aircraft went into action in insurgency hotspots north and west of the capital.

Late Saturday, U.S. forces spotted insurgents moving in the darkness to set up an ambush near the giant U.S. air base of Taji, 12 miles (19 kilometers) north of Baghdad, the military said in a statement.

The insurgents fired on Apache attack helicopters that were conducting reconnaissance. The helicopters fired back and the insurgents retreated. When they tried to regroup, an Air Force F-15E jet dropped a 500-pound (225-kilogram) bomb on them, the military said. Six insurgents were killed and five were wounded and captured, the statement said.

Elsewhere, a Marine Harrier jet killed three insurgents who were planting roadside bombs late Saturday in the north of Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold 70 miles (110 kilometers) west of Baghdad, the military said.

In an interview Saturday with U.S. cable television station FOX News, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani complained that American commanders were stalling on giving Iraqi forces a bigger role in battling the insurgents.

"We ask them for things to change, they agree, and then nothing happens," Talabani said. He said the Iraqis would prefer for coalition forces to concentrate on protecting oil pipelines and other key infrastructure.

Fox said the U.S. military declined comment on Talabani's remarks, AP reported. V.A.

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