Iraq moves ahead with plan to combat violence
BAGHDAD, Iraq &
A bombing at a Baghdad bakery killed at least 11 people Tuesday as the Iraqi government put forth a new idea to help stop sectarian violence: ensuring security checkpoints in the capital have an equal number of Shiite and Sunni troops.
The bomb, planted under a car in the mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhood of Dora, ripped through a line of people waiting outside a bakery &
the worst of the day's attacks, which left at least 22 dead across the country.
The U.S. command also announced the deaths of two more soldiers, one killed Monday on patrol in Baghdad and the other near Tikrit on Sunday when a roadside bomb blew up next to his vehicle. The deaths bring the number of U.S. troops killed in October to 34 &
many the result of stepped-up efforts to end violence in the capital.
Authorities discovered the mutilated bodies of 60 men in different parts of Baghdad over the 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning, police said. The bullet-riddled bodies all had their hands and feet bound and showed signs of torture &
hallmarks of death-squad killings.
Under intense pressure to halt the sectarian violence, which has killed thousands this year, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki a week ago announced a four-point security plan aimed at stopping Shiite-Sunni killings.
In a first step, officials said Tuesday that all security checkpoints in Baghdad would soon be manned by an equal number of Shiite and Sunni Arab troops.
The new effort reflects the deep mistrust between Shiites and Sunnis even within the security forces &
effectively putting them together to keep watch on each other. Each side accuses the other of backing militias, and Sunnis in particular say the Shiite-dominated police force often allows Shiite militias to carry out kidnappings and murders.
Al-Maliki's overall plan calls for the creation of local Shiite-Sunni committees that will oversee policing in each district of Baghdad, reporting back to a Central Committee for Peace and Security to coordinate with the security forces and the prime minister.
The parties agreed Saturday on the makeup of the central committee, said a member, Bassem Sherif, who represents the Shiite Fadila party on the body. It includes four representatives each from the Shiite coalition that dominates parliament and the main Sunni coalition, along with one representative each from the Kurds and the Iraqi List, a mixed, secular party, Sherif said.
The committee will meet in coming days to work with the Interior and Defense ministries on arranging the balanced checkpoints, Sherif said. A Sunni participant in Saturday's talks, Khalaf al-Alayan, head of the National Dialogue Council party, confirmed details of the plan.
The six-month wave of Sunni-Shiite killings has fueled the flight of Iraqis from their homes.
Iraq's Immigration Minister Abdul-Samad Sultan said more than 300,000 Iraqis have been displaced since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Half of them, he said, fled their homes after the February bombing of a Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra that sparked waves of violence.
Those displaced mostly moved in with their own sectarian communities &
Shiites fleeing mainly Sunni or mixed areas to Shiite-dominated ones, and vice versa &
exacerbating the segregation of the country of some 30 million.
Some 890,000 Iraqis have moved to Jordan, Iran and Syria since 2003, Sultan said.
In other violence Tuesday, a car bombing in the primarily Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in north Baghdad killed four people and wounded nine, police 1st Sgt. Mahmud Hussein said.
The brother of a Baghdad police brigadier was found shot dead, tied to a lamppost in Buhriz, 35 miles north of the capital, police in the nearby city of Baqouba said. Later authorities found the body of another of the brigadier's brothers, also shot, lying in the street.
The bodies of two other shooting victims were found in Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad, and another was found in Baqouba, police said.
The U.S. military said Iraqi and U.S. troops killed at least nine fighters in clashes with the Mahdi Army &
Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia &
in the southern city of Diwaniya on Monday. Two U.S. soldiers were wounded.
On Sunday, U.S.-Iraqi forces in Diwaniya battled for hours with members of the Mahdi Army, who are loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The military said 30 militiamen were killed; the militia denied it.
The U.S. command also announced that DNA tests have confirmed that a man shot and killed by British forces in Iraq was the leading al-Qaida terrorist who embarrassed the U.S. military by escaping from the Bagram maximum security military prison in Afghanistan.
Omar al-Farouq was killed Sept. 25 after he fired on British forces during a raid in Basra, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.
Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.