Car Bomb In Baghdad Kills 6

Tuesday, October 16th 2007, 8:06 am
By: News On 6

BAGHDAD (AP) _ A car bomb exploded Tuesday near an Iraqi army checkpoint in Baghdad, killing at least six people and wounding 25, police and military officials said.

Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, meanwhile, arrived in Ankara to try to persuade Turkey not to stage a cross-border offensive to fight separatist Kurdish rebels based in the mountainous frontier region.

The Iraqi government also reiterated its call for Turkey to use diplomacy.

Ali al-Dabbagh, the spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said the government would not tolerate violence from the separatist rebels, but he urged the Turks to ``seek a diplomatic solution and not a military one in dealing with the terrorist threats that target it.''

Washington has pressed its NATO ally not to enter Iraq, fearing that unilateral Turkish military action could destabilize the autonomous Kurdish region in the north, which is one of Iraq's few relatively stable areas. The Kurds also are a longtime U.S. ally.

The explosives-laden car was parked near a gas station across the street from the checkpoint on Saadoun Street when it blew up just before noon, police and army officials said.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information, said four civilians and two Iraqi soldiers were killed and 25 people were wounded, including 19 civilians.

It was the latest in a series of car bombings in the capital despite stringent security measures in place as part of U.S.-Iraqi military operations and celebrations marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents, particularly al-Qaida in Iraq.

U.S. commanders have cited major progress in curtailing al-Qaida operations during an eight-month security crackdown in Baghdad and surrounding areas, but they have been unable to stop the car bombings and suicide attacks usually attributed to the group.

A car bomb in western Baghdad's religiously mixed Harthiyah neighborhood Monday night killed at least six people and wounded 25, police said. Most of the victims were among families on their way home after spending the day in a nearby amusement park for Eid al-Fitr, the festival that follows the end of Ramadan.

A suicide car bomber also targeted a Sunni Arab group that has joined forces with the U.S. against al-Qaida around Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The blast tore through a checkpoint near the Salahuddin Revival Council's office in Yathreb village, just outside Balad, killing six policemen and wounding eight people, including bystanders, police said.

The U.S. military announced the arrest of several militants on both sides of the sectarian divide, including one of five extremists who were believed to be behind last week's rocket attack that killed two U.S. soldiers on Camp Victory, the headquarters for American forces in Iraq.

The suspect was detained along with three known associates early Monday by U.S. soldiers, according to a statement. The alleged militants tried to hide in the Agriculture Ministry compound in eastern Baghdad and the soldiers entered the ministry to detain them, the military said.

``We have reason to believe that, through two intelligence-driven operations over the last few days, we now have detained all of the leadership and the key operatives of the indirect fire cell that attacked Victory Base last week,'' said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the deputy commander of Baghdad operations.

The statement didn't identify the militants, but the Agriculture Ministry _ which was closed for the holiday on Monday _ is run by Shiites with a heavy influence by the Mahdi Army militia that is loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Separately, the military announced the capture in southern Baghdad of a suspected al-Qaida-linked militant believed to be a key leader in a car bomb network that was trying to re-establish itself after being disrupted by U.S.-led operations. Nine other suspects also were detained in that raid and others in the capital.

U.S. troops also killed three al-Qaida-linked militants and detained 20 others during the weekend near the northern Sunni cities of Samarra and Tarmiyah, as well as the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi, the military said.

In other violence Tuesday, three policemen were shot to death in a drive-by shooting at a checkpoint in Baghdad's eastern neighborhood of Zayouna.