BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraqi security forces will dig trenches around Baghdad and set up checkpoints along all roads leading into the city to try to reduce some of the violence plaguing the capital, the Interior Ministry said Friday.
A U.S. Marine was killed Friday in Anbar province, and an American soldier was killed Thursday evening by a roadside bomb northwest of Baghdad, the military said. Five American soldiers died Thursday, making it an especially bloody day for U.S. forces.
An Iraqi civilian was killed and five others were wounded when a gunman on top of an abandoned building opened fire in a Sunni Arab neighborhood in central Baghdad, said police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali.
A spokesman for a prominent Sunni Arab political party was shot and killed by gunmen, said a party official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he fears for his life.
Sheik Muhanad al-Gharairi was a spokesman for the Conference of People of Iraq, a Sunni Arab party headed by Adnan al-Dulaimi. He was also an imam at a mosque in Baghdad and was on his way to conduct prayers at a different mosque in Garma, 19 miles outside of Baghdad when he was killed.
The plan to dig trenches around Baghdad will be implemented in coming weeks, Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Kareem Khalaf told The Associated Press.
It comes as more than 130 people were slain in two days _ either killed in attacks or tortured and dumped in rivers or on the city's streets.
``Trenches will be dug around Baghdad in the coming weeks when the third part of the Baghdad security plan is implemented,'' Khalaf said.
The security plan, known as Operation Together Forward, began June 15 and is being implemented in three phases. The first phase included setting up random checkpoints around the city, phase two began Aug. 7 and focused on the most violence-prone areas of Baghdad _ mostly the Sunni Arab southern districts. Phase three reportedly includes cordoning off and searching other parts of Baghdad, including predominantly Shiite areas.
Khalaf said that except for the trenches, vehicle and pedestrian traffic would be restricted to just 28 entry points with manned checkpoints.
``We will leave only 28 inlets to Baghdad while all other inlets will be blocked. Supports will be added to the trenches to hinder the movements of people and vehicles. The trenches will be under our watch,'' he said.
He did not have any details, but did say that there would be no concrete walls or razor wire. Khalaf also did not know how deep or wide the trenches would be.
``They will surround Baghdad,'' he said of the trenches.
Both the Bush administration and military have said sectarian killings and violence are surging around Iraq and in the capita, although the military has said the attacks are limited to parts of Baghdad not yet included in the security operation.
A reduction in violence Friday was directly attributed to a vehicle ban went into effect around Baghdad to prevent suicide car bombers and others attacking worshippers during prayers. The ban is implemented every Friday.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, told the Security Council on Thursday that the average number of weekly attacks increased 15 percent and Iraqi casualties increased by 51 percent, compared with the previous three months.
One of the few positive developments for the U.S.-led coalition and the national unity government was the reported killing of a senior member of al-Qaida in Iraq and the capture of another al-Qaida leader.
The Interior Ministry said Abu Jaafar al-Liby, who it described as either the second or third most important figure in al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed by police earlier this week.
Four other insurgents were killed and two were arrested in the raid, a ministry spokesman, Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, told the AP.
Al-Liby was in charge of the Baghdad sector of al-Qaida in Iraq, Khalaf said. He said two letters were found on his body _ one addressed to Osama bin Laden and the other to Abu Ayyoub al-Masri, who is thought to be al-Qaida in Iraq's leader. Both letters pledged loyalty and promised more attacks, Khalaf said.
The U.S. military also said it captured a senior al-Qaida figure and personal associate of the group's new leader during a Sept. 12 raid.
The man, who was not identified, led assassination, kidnapping and bomb-making cells in Baghdad, and played a key role in al-Qaida's activities in Fallujah before it was attacked by U.S. troops in November 2004, Caldwell said.
Shiite politicians, meanwhile, said they had made progress in trying to break a deadlock over legislation to establish autonomous regions as part of a federated Iraq. Sunni Arabs oppose the bill, fearing it could split Iraq into three sectarian and ethnic cantons. The proposed legislation, which could be introduced next week.