At least 50 killed in wave of violence
BAGHDAD -- A wave of bombings and shootings swept Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least 50 people and raising fears that al-Qaida had launched a promised new offensive. The U.S. military acknowledged that violence was on the upswing and blamed it on the terror movement.
Also Wednesday came the announcement that Iraqi and American troops raided the Iraqi military academy the day before and arrested cadets and instructors allegedly linked to the kidnap-slaying of the former superintendent and the abduction of his replacement, who was later freed.
Police reported at least six car bombings around the country Wednesday, an increase over the pattern of attacks in recent weeks, though U.S. officials insisted that violence was still below levels of last year.
Wednesday's deadliest attack occurred when a suicide driver detonated an explosives-laden truck close to the home of a Sunni Arab tribal leader near Sinjar, 240 miles northwest of Baghdad.
Sinjar hospital director Kifah Mohammed said 10 people were killed and nine wounded, including the sheik. The sheik's son, who worked as a government contractor, was killed, the director said. The U.S. military said the sheik had spoken out against al-Qaida.
Six civilians were killed and 28 were wounded when a pair of car bombs exploded in an outdoor market in Baghdad's southwestern district of Baiyaa, police said. Shiite militias have driven thousands of Sunnis from Baiyaa this year.
The private National Iraqi News Agency quoted an unidentified police official as saying 32 people were killed in the blast, but officers at two nearby police stations disputed the figure.
In Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, a suicide car bomb struck a court building under construction, killing three people and wounding about 30, police said.
Three civilians died when a suicide car bomber attacked a police patrol in Mosul, police Brig. Gen. Saeed Ahmed al-Jubouri said.
In the south, a bomb exploded near the main gate of a Sunni mosque in the town of Abu al-Khaseeb, about 12 miles south of Basra, killing five worshippers and wounding 10 others, police reported.
The blast may have been in retaliation for a suicide bombing the day before against the police headquarters in Basra, an attack which killed three policemen and wounded 20 other people. Nearly all the Basra police are Shiites.
In Baghdad, gunmen ambushed a car carrying two senior police officers -- Maj. Gen. Ayad Jassim Mohammed and Col. Imad Kadim -- in the Qadisiyah district, killing both of them, police said.
A Shiite adviser to the Iraqi parliament, Thamir Abid Ali Hassoun, was gunned down in eastern Baghdad when assailants blocked an alley near his home and sprayed his car with bullets, police said.
The other victims were either found dead in Baghdad and Kut or died in bombings and shootings in Tikrit, Basra and Diyala province, where U.S. troops have been battling al-Qaida militants.
In a Web posting Sept. 15, the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida front group, announced a new offensive for the ongoing Islamic holy month of Ramadan in memory of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of al-Qaida in Iraq who was killed last year in a U.S. airstrike.
Also Wednesday, the U.S. command announced that an American soldier had been killed the day before by small-arms fire in eastern Baghdad.