A suicide bomber blew himself up at a gathering of Sufi Muslims north of Baghdad June 2, killing 10 and injuring at least 12. The attack took place at a house in the village of Saud, near the northern town of Balad as Sufis gathered for a religious ceremony, Interior Ministry officials said. Ahmed Hamid, a Sufi witness, told the AP: “I was among 50 people inside the tekiya [Sufi gathering place] practicing our rites when the building was hit by a big explosion. Then, there was chaos everywhere and human flesh scattered all over the place.”
The bombing brought the day’s death toll to 49. That evening, two gunmen shot dead Ali Abdul-Hussein, the imam of a Shi’ite mosque in the southern city of Basra, as he stood outside his house, police and relatives said.
In Kirkuk, where ethnic tensions have been building between Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen who all lay claim to the strategic oil city, gunmen killed a leading Turkmen official in a drive-by shooting as he left Friday prayers, police said. The victim, Brigadier General Sabah Qaratun, worked for Kirkuk’s local government and was a member of a leading Turkmen party. Over the past month leading officials in all three ethnic communities have been assassinated in the city.
Since a new Shi’ite Islamist-led government was named on April 28, more than 800 Iraqis and 80 US troops have been killed, making May the deadliest month since January. (Reuters, London Times, June 4)
A suicide car bomber also wounded nine Iraqi soldiers and two women after attacking an Iraqi army checkpoint near the U.S. 42nd Infantry Division base in Tikrit, 130 km north of Baghdad, police Capt. Hakim al-Azawi said. He added that police also pulled the body of a man who had been shot in the head from the Tigris River. His hands had been bound.
In Baghdad, men in three speeding cars sprayed gunfire into a crowded market in the northern neighbourhood of Hurriyah, killing nine people, the interior and defence ministries said. Two other Baghdad attacks killed four people and injured three.
As part of the anti-insurgent campaign, Iraq’s new government (backed up by US forces) has launched its biggest offensive since Saddam Hussein’s fall two years ago. Iraqi officials have said the operation, which began Sunday, involves 40,000 soldiers. (AP, June 3)
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