Skip to comments.34 Bodies Discovered As Rice Visits Iraq
Posted on 05/15/2005 11:33:22 AM PDT by My Favorite Headache
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The bodies of 34 men shot execution-style were found in three locations in less than 24 hours, police said Sunday, a day when drive-by shootings and suicide bombings killed at least eight Iraqis, including a senior Industry Ministry official and a top Shiite cleric.
The spree of attacks came as Secretary of State of Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Iraq, a day after the U.S. military announced it had successfully wrapped up a weeklong offensive in a remote desert region near the Syrian border aimed at followers of Iraq's most-wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Rice met with leaders of the new national government and urged patience for Iraqis weary of violence and insecurity.
Soon after the offensive ended Saturday, gunmen released the governor of Iraq's western Anbar province, relatives and a government official said. Gov. Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi was seized Tuesday as he drove from Qaim and kidnappers had vowed to hold him until U.S. forces withdrew from the border town.
Insurgents launched more brazen attacks Sunday in a seemingly endless campaign apparently aimed at enflaming sectarian tensions, destabilizing Iraq's new government and forcing U.S.-led troops out of the country.
Gunmen in two cars shot to death Industry Ministry official Col. Jassam Mohammed al-Lahibi and his driver in western Baghdad's Ghazaliyah neighborhood, police and Interior Ministry officials said.
A leading Shiite cleric, Sheik Qassim al-Gharawi, and his nephew were killed in another drive-by shooting in the capital's New Baghdad neighborhood, according to police Lt. Col. Ahmed Aboud.
Al-Gharawi was an aide to Iraqi spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and responsible for conveying al-Sistani's edicts to Shiites in parts of Baghdad, Shiite lawmaker Jala Aldin al-Saghir said.
Shiites make up 60 percent of Iraq's 26 million people, while Sunni Arabs who were dominant under Saddam Hussein and are believed to be driving the insurgency comprise 15 percent to 20 percent of the population.
The bodies of 13 men, most appearing to be in their 20s, were discovered face down in a shallow grave in a garbage-strewn lot in eastern Baghdad's impoverished Sadr City, a Shiite neighborhood, Lt. Col. Shaker Wadi al-Maliki said.
Local residents saw people in a truck dump the bodies on the ground and cover them with soil, said another policeman, Lt. Col. Hafidh Maan.
Judging by the nature of the wounds and the condition of the bodies, police officials believed the men were shot either late Saturday or early Sunday.
An Associated Press photographer saw the bodies on the ground blindfolded, with their hands tied behind their back and at least three bullet wounds in each of their heads. The men were wearing civilian clothes but had no identifying documents.
Members of the Badr Brigades, a Shiite militia, first came across the bodies while searching for hidden homemade bombs.
Police also discovered 11 slain men with their hands tied behind their backs and fatal bullet wounds to the head dumped in a deserted chicken farm in Huqoul, a town in the Latifiyah area, 25 miles south of the capital.
Two trucks riddled with bullet holes were found nearby. Police Capt. Muthna Khalid Ali said identity documents and keys found on two of the bodies indicated they owned the trucks and were among 11 truck drivers kidnapped in the area last month.
Latifiyah is in an insurgent stronghold known as the Triangle of Death that has been the scene of repeated tit-for-tat killings and kidnapping between Shiite and Sunni Muslim groups.
In the battleground city of Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, the slain bodies of 10 Iraqi soldiers were found Saturday, an Interior Ministry statement said. The men were shot and their bodies were left in an eastern part of the city, the statement added without providing further details.
Elsewhere, two explosions detonated about five minutes apart in a busy street as residents were heading to work in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 37, hospital official Raed Abdul Munim said.
The first, a suicide car bomb, targeted the convoy of Diyala provincial Gov. Raed Rashid Hamid al-Mullah Jawad, who escaped unharmed, said police Col. Mudhafar Mohammed. Three of Jawad's guards were wounded.
Minutes later, a suicide bomber dressed as a police lieutenant blew himself up when he was stopped from entering a court building about 500 yards away, police Brig. Gen. Adil Mollan said.
Mollan said Maj. Imad Shakir Mahmoud, who blocked the bomber, was among three policemen killed in the blast, and three other officers were injured.
At least seven mortar rounds slammed into a downtown Baqouba residential area about 20 minutes later, badly damaging five homes and injuring three men and one woman, said Diyala police commander Brig. Adil Molan.
Rice was the first senior American official to visit the country since the new government was sworn in.
She met with leaders including Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi, the former Bush administration favorite who fell out with Washington before the January elections.
"Things do not happen overnight," Rice said. "We have become very impatient."
The released governor's cousin, Safi Jalal, told AP the captive had been freed without conditions in the village of Obeidi, scene of some of the fiercest fighting in the first days of the weeklong U.S. offensive.
U.S. Marines said the seven-day offensive ended late Saturday, with more than 125 insurgents killed, many others wounded and 39 suspects "of intelligence value" detained. Nine U.S. Marines were also killed and 40 injured during Operation Matador.
No further details were provided on the detainees, but Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Sunday that some Saudi nationals were captured.
"This operation was necessary and it was very successful," Zebari said on CNN's "Late Edition," reiterating his criticism that Syria and other neighboring countries weren't doing enough to prevent militants from crossing their borders into Iraq.
"Their inaction is helping, is assisting those foreign fighters to move at ease, to cross the borders without any checks, without any attempts to neutralize them," he said.
In other developments Sunday:
_Kidnappers holding Australian Douglas Wood hostage in Iraq have indefinitely extended their deadline for Australian forces to start withdrawing from Iraq, Australia's top Islamic leader here Sunday. The Australian government has refused to meet the demand. Sheik Taj El Din al-Hilaly flew to Baghdad last week to try to negotiate the release of Wood, an engineer captured here more than a week ago.
_The Ansar al-Sunnah Army, a militant group that claims to have kidnapped a Japanese man in Iraq, released a video it said shows the aftermath of the ambush that led to his capture. The video, which appeared on an Islamic extremist Web site, did not give any indication of Saito's fate but purportedly showed the killing of four foreign contractors and 12 bodyguards. A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman saw the video and said it was believed to be genuine.
_A previously unheard of Iraqi militant group claimed in a videotape that it had kidnapped a Palestinian and Iraqi truck driver delivering supplies to U.S. forces in Iraq. The tape, which could not be authenticated, showed the two drivers in front of a black banner on which was written in Arabic the "Junaid Jihadist Battalion."
Associated Press writer Bushra Juhi contributed to this report in Baghdad.
Why does it seem that so many of these hijacked men and people never have any weapons or guns to defend themselves with? The "hostages" guns should be empty and there should be some dead kidnappers with them.
Is the headline some vain AP/Yahoo attempt to connect SoS Rice with the murders?
It's Condi's fault.
One, Rice visits. Who, what, when, where and how.
Two, dead bodies found. Who, what, when, where and how.
I don't see the connection that made two stories turn out as one.
Just AP/Reuters showing their bash America colors as best as they can on the weekend.
The terrorists have shot their entire arsenal betcha. This was The offensive.
Just a hunch..
CBS should just have a standing headline: "Bad Event Happens, Bush At Fault"?
Odd, isn't it, that the headline doesn't read "UN Member Fires On Own People"?
Well, with that headline my first thought was, "Condi, what have you been up to??"
Nice juxtaposition in the headline. As long as we're conflating things: "Girl drowns as Ted Kennedy visits Nantucket"
Notice the headline wasnt "Kidnapped governor released as Condi visits Iraq"..
Some articles have it buried and some dont even mention it.
These may be the bodies of terrorists that the Shiites are cleansing from their neighborhoods. It's not always bad news for our side, huh?
Mind if I steal that for my new tagline?
That sure is what I thought when I read the headline....
I'd be happy if you did.