Sunni-Shi’ite Jihad Update from AFP: “Sixty-one killed as Iraq prepares to take charge of military”
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Insurgents killed at least 61 Iraqis, including 14 in a car bomb attack on a popular Baghdad market, as the government prepared to take full command of its own military.
At least 43 were killed when a series of seven rocket and bomb attacks were launched almost simultaneously against Shiite and Christian districts of Baghdad shortly before the nightly curfew, security officials said.
A car bomb went off in the southern neighbourhood of Al-Amin, killing 14 people and wounding 38, including six women, a medic at Al-Kindi hospital said.
Sunni extremists often target markets to kill civilians who venture out to buy household goods before the dusk-to-dawn curfew begins.
Six more explosive devices, including rockets, detonated in three areas, of which two were in the Shiite bastion of Sadr City, the security official said. At least 29 people were killed in these attacks.
Earlier in the day, another 18 people were killed in a string of attacks, including nine in the restive Diyala province, as the war-torn country’s latest round of bloodletting claimed more than 250 lives in five chaotic days.
A British diplomatic convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in Baghdad’s upscale Mansur district but no one on board was hurt, embassy officials said.
Even as the brutal violence stretched hard-pressed security forces, Iraq prepared to activate a joint military headquarters to command Iraq’s navy, air force and 10 army divisions, totaling 115,000 troops.
A statement from the defence ministry said military leaders would meet their US and coalition counterparts Saturday to announce an agreement “on the control of strategic and combat operations.”
US military officials confirmed that the announcement would mark the creation of a joint headquarters.
Iraq’s armed forces are currently coordinated by US headquarters under the command of General George Casey, the head of US-led coalition troops in Iraq, who said Wednesday it would be at least a year until US troops could leave.
Will officials be saying that next year, too?