At least 14 die in Baghdad car bombing
US reports killing 5 from Al Qaeda in central Iraq
BAGHDAD - A car bomb left at least 14 people dead in the capital yesterday, while US troops chasing extremists in one of their last remaining bastions in central Iraq said they killed five Al Qaeda gunmen.
In Baghdad, police said they had uncovered a weapons cache on property owned by the son of Adnan al-Dulaimi, one of Iraq's most influential Sunni politicians. His son, Maki Adnan al-Dulaimi, was jailed one month ago for his alleged involvement with some car bombs found at his father's Baghdad compound.
The midday explosion in Tayaran Square - a predominantly Shi'ite area that has been targeted by insurgents in the past - occurred just after Friday prayers. The downtown square is crowded with falafel and other food stands, and is popular with people hawking second-hand and cheap clothes. In late May, a car bomb killed 23 people in the square.
The bombing, one of the most violent in recent days, comes at a time when residents of Baghdad have slowly been emerging from their homes following a significant dip in violence since June.
A surge by almost 30,000 US troops, a cease-fire declared by radical Shi'ite extremist Moqtada al-Sadr, and the growth of groups fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq groups in Anbar province, Baghdad, and elsewhere has reduced violence by 60 percent, according to the US military.
One of the few remaining hot spots is Diyala province just north of Baghdad, where many Islamic extremist have fled. The US military said it had killed four heavily armed gunmen tied to Al Qaeda in Iraq in an operation near Muqdadiyah in Diyala. Another was killed in a predominantly Sunni area south of Baghdad.
"These operations are examples of our continued success against Al Qaeda," said Major Winfield Danielson, a spokesman for the US-led Multinational Forces. "Iraqi and coalition forces are disrupting [Al Qaeda] operations and diminishing their pool of manpower, but they still pose a threat to innocent Iraqis."
Iraqi police reported that militants killed five Iraqis, including a police officer, in separate attacks around the Diyala capital of Baqubah.
In the raid on a property owned by Maki Adnan al-Dulaimi, Iraqi forces reportedly found guns, bombs, and explosives underneath a chicken coop. Dulaimi's father Adnan heads the Sunni Arab Accordance Front, a three-party alliance that has 44 parliamentary seats.
Two Iraqi police officials involved in the operation said they found 80 mortars, 60 grenade launchers, six hand grenades, two sniper rifles, hundreds of boxes of bullets, and 10 bombs used in cars, as well as fuses and wires used for explosives. The officials declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Sunni lawmaker Asmaa Adnan al-Dulaimi, Maki's sister, said the reports were baseless. The US military said they did not have any operational reports on the incident.
US and Iraqi troops arrested Dulaimi on Nov. 30 after a gunman they were pursuing fled to the offices of his father.
Brigadier General Qassim al-Moussawi, the chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, said he was arrested after confessions by guards arrested after the pursuit.
Moussawi said two car bombs were discovered at Dulaimi's office compound. The United States said one vehicle rigged as a suicide car bomb was found on the street outside the compound, and one of Dulaimi's security guards had the keys.
In Seoul, South Korea's parliament voted yesterday to extend the country's troop deployment in Iraq for another year, amid protests by activists opposed to the decision. South Korea has 650 troops in Iraq.
Iraq's oil ministry said earlier this week that it had threatened to stop all crude exports to South Korea if that nation proceeds with a deal it signed with the semiautonomous Kurdistan regional government.
The central government has promised not to do business with oil firms trying to get a foothold in Kurdistan before a new oil revenue-sharing law is passed.
In early November, a consortium led by the state-run Korea National Oil Corp., or KNOC, secured exploration rights from the Kurdish regional government for an oil field in the northern province. The Korean consortium includes SK Energy, South Korea's biggest oil refiner, and GS Holdings Corp.
Iraqi authorities have drafted several versions of legislation to regulate the country's oil industry and share the revenues among Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurdish communities. But the effort has bogged down parliament in large part because of opposition from the Kurds, who want a greater say in managing oil fields in their self-ruled area of the north.