The explosives blew a hole in the minaret of the Sunni mosque inHaswa, a predominantly Shiite city 30 miles south of Baghdad, but themosque was empty and no casualties were reported.
The attack came a day after a man driving a truck laden withexplosives and boxes of new shoes struck a Shiite mosque in Haswa,destroying nearby stores as well as part of the shrine and its minaret,which rose above piles of concrete, broken chairs and other rubble.
Police said 45 people also were wounded in that attack — one of aseries of suicide bombings that killed a total of 47 people asinsurgents appeared to be stepping up their campaign against anAmerican-led security crackdown trying to stop retaliatory sectarianattacks.
On March 14, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William C. Caldwellexpressed optimism about the operation, but urged patience andcautioned that "high-profile" car bombings, which rose to a high of 77in February, could "start the whole cycle of violence again."
The number of execution-style killings in the capital has declinedsince the operation started on Feb. 14 — a development officials say isdue to an agreement keeping Shiite militias off the street, andSunday's attack in Haswa highlighted concerns that militia factions areangry about being sidelined while the bombings continue.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State in Iraq, an insurgent umbrella groupthat includes al-Qaida in Iraq, purportedly claimed responsibility forthree suicide bombings Saturday near the Anbar province city of Qaim,near the Syrian border, saying in an Internet statement that 45policemen were killed and 48 were wounded.
The statement could not be independently verified, and police saidonly six people had been killed, including five policemen, and 19 otherpeople wounded.
One of the attackers hit a checkpoint, while another targeted apolice station but was forced to detonate his explosives about yardsaway after guards opened fire on him, Col. Tariq Yousif al-Dulaimisaid, adding that all the casualties were from those two explosions.
A third bombing also occurred about 100 yards away from anIraqi-staffed checkpoint, but only the attacker was killed after theguards opened fire, he said.
The deadliest attack on Saturday destroyed a police station inBaghdad, killing 20 people — half policemen and several others inmatesat a jail in the two-story building. The bomber bypassed tight securityto get within 25 yards of the station by blending in with other truckscoming and going as part of a construction project, detonating hisexplosives after reaching the main gate, police said.
In all, at least 74 people were killed or found dead in Iraq onSaturday, making it the seventh deadliest day since U.S. and Iraqiforces launched the security operation on Feb. 14, according to anAssociated Press tally.
The bombings were not as numerous and the casualties not as high asthe death tolls that were often in the dozens before the U.S. and Iraqigovernments sent thousands more troops to the Baghdad area to try tostop a surge of retaliatory attacks between Sunnis and Shiites.
But they came on the heels of other high-profile attacks last week,including a suicide bombing that wounded Iraq's Sunni deputy primeminister and killed nine other people and a rocket strike that landednear a news conference being held by the U.N. secretary-general inBaghdad.
An aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the deputy primeminister, Salam al-Zubaie, had been wounded by shrapnel in his face,stomach and chest but his condition was improving.
"The doctors say that his situation will improve within the twocoming days to the degree that he will be able to speak," the aidesaid, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorizedto publicly discuss the situation.
The aide also said al-Zubaie was being kept under tight security in the U.S.-run hospital in the heavily fortified Green Zone.
"Even his relatives are not allowed to enter the hospital," the aide said.
Several Sunni lawmakers have said they have visited al-Zubaie and found him in good condition.
The bombing occurred Friday in a private mosque on al-Zubaie's securedcompound, raising concerns about how the attacker had penetrated theSunni leader's inner circle. Some reports said it was a bodyguard;others a cook.
The Islamic State in Iraq also claimed responsibility for that attack.
U.S. and Iraqi forces, meanwhile, persisted with theirneighborhood-to-neighborhood sweep of the capital, and the militaryannounced Sunday that troops had found 470 anti-tank mines Saturday inthe Shiite militia Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City after getting a tipfrom an Iraqi citizen.
Another large weapons cache with roadside bomb-making materialwas found and 31 suspected insurgents were detained Friday in Diyarah30 miles south of Baghdad, the military said in a separate statement.
The military also said Iraqi police had detained a man Fridayas he was trying to detonate an explosives-laden truck containing five,1,000-gallon barrels of chlorine near a police station and a watertreatment plant in the Sunni city of Ramadi.
The use of the toxic gas in recent attacks has prompted theU.S. military to warn that insurgents are adopting new tactics in acampaign to spread panic.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16