Rockets, car bomb kill 15 in Baghdad as U.N. warns Iraq in danger of civil war

Tuesday, September 19th 2006, 9:45 am
By: News On 6

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Rockets and mortars struck three neighborhoods in Baghdad and a car bomb exploded near a gas station Tuesday, killing 15 people and wounding more than 50, while police recovered three more apparent victims of sectarian reprisal murders in the capital.

The violence came a day after U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that Iraq was in ``grave danger'' of collapsing into civil war and urged the government to do more to foster national unity.

``If current patterns of alienation and violence persist much longer, there is a grave danger that the Iraqi state will break down, possibly in the midst of a full-scale civil war,'' Annan told a meeting of foreign ministers at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Five rockets exploded in a residential area of Abu Tesher, a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad's predominantly Sunni Arab Dora district, killing 10 people and wounding 19, police said.

The car bombing in the city's west killed two civilians and wounded 25, authorities said.

A mortar shell hit a house in the Shiite neighborhood of Abu Sayfeen in central Baghdad, killing one person outside and wounding three boys and their father inside, police reported. A few minutes later, a mortar round struck near a police checkpoint, also in central Baghdad, killing an officer and wounding five people.

Another mortar landed in the Shiite neighborhood of Zaafaraniyah in southeastern Baghdad, seriously wounding two civilians, police said.

Police Lt. Bilal Ali said authorities found three blindfolded bodies dumped in eastern Baghdad. He said all had been shot and bore signs of torture, trademarks of sectarian killings being waged between Shiite and Sunni Arabs.

The U.S. military command announced that two American soldiers were killed Sunday _ one by small arms fire in north-central Baghdad and the other by a roadside bomb in the city's northeast.

In the southern city of Basra, a string of rocket and mortar attacks hit compounds housing the Iranian, British and U.S. consulates and British military bases, but caused no casualties, police and military officials said.

At the Iranian consulate, one rocket hit the building, another struck a car parked outside, a third hit the compound wall and a fourth fell in the garden, Basra police said. The fifth landed outside the walls.

Three rounds were launched at Basra Palace, a compound that houses a British base and the British and U.S. consulates, a British military spokesman, Maj. Charlie Burbridge, said. Only one struck inside the compound, he said.

Rockets were also fired at the Shat al Arab Hotel base and at the main British base in the city, but did not strike their targets, he said.

British bases in Basra frequently come under rocket and mortar attack.

To the north, Iraqi television journalist Ahmed Riyadh al-Karbouli, 25, was killed over the weekend in the volatile city of Ramadi, west of the capital, the Baghdad TV station for which he worked said Tuesday.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned al-Karbouli's killing, saying he had received death threats from insurgents over the past four months warning him to leave the television station.

In an effort to stem the violence, tribal leaders and clerics in Ramadi, capital of the vast Anbar province, met last week and set up a 43-member tribal council with a force of about 20,000 men to fight the insurgency.

Sheik Fassal al-Guood, a prominent Sunni tribal leader, called on the Iraqi government to legitimize the newly formed Anbar Salvation Council to enable it to fight ``terrorists where ever we find them.''

``Anbar has been ruled by terrorists. There has been a real mess ... criminal gangs are kidnapping and killing children and women,'' Al-Guood said. ``And so we ask our esteemed government to legitimize this council.''

On Monday, al-Guood had said 15 of Ramadi's 18 tribes ``have sworn to fight those who are killing Sunnis and Shiites,'' and said they had an armed force of about 20,000 men.

Elsewhere, gunmen killed Faris Egab, the mayor of Udhaym town, about 40 miles north of the Diyala provincial capital of Baqouba, as he drove to work, the province's police said.

Gunmen also struck in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, opening fire on a police patrol near the city's prison, killing one policeman and wounding three others, the police said.

In northern Iraq, a roadside bomb aimed at a U.S. military convoy in the city of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, wounded four civilians, said police Col. Abdul-Karim Ahmed Khalaf.

On Monday, bombers and gunmen killed at least 41 people and injured dozens across Iraq, while the country's politicians again failed to agree on legislation some fear could divide the country and lead to further violence.

Political leaders postponed a parliamentary debate that had been set for Tuesday on a draft bill to establish autonomous regions as part of a federated Iraq.

Sunni Arabs fear that creating autonomous regions could deprive them of a share of Iraq's oil riches, which are concentrated in the Shiite-dominated south and the largely Kurdish north.