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String of bombs kills five Iraqi police

US ally killed in car in Baghdad

By Vanessa Gera
Associated Press / September 15, 2008
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BAGHDAD - Three roadside bombs planted in succession struck a police convoy in one of Iraq's most dangerous provinces yesterday, killing five policemen. In Baghdad, the leader of a Sunni group allied with the United States died when his booby-trapped car exploded.

The bombs planted along a main thoroughfare targeted a police convoy in Jalawla, 60 miles north of Baghdad, said Ibrahim Bajilan, head of the provincial council of Diyala.

The province, northeast of Baghdad and bordering Iran, remains a major security challenge for the US-backed Iraqi government, even as violence drops in other parts of the country.

Diyala has had a volatile mix of Sunni and Shi'ite militants, and some Iraqi Arabs are concerned that forces from the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq are encroaching on territory there.

On Saturday night, a bomb killed the leader of a US-backed, Sunni armed group in the al-Furat neighborhood of western Baghdad.

The bomb exploded in the car of Fuad Ali Hussein, killing him as well as his deputy and two bodyguards. Hussein was head of a neighborhood awakening council - a term describing Sunni Arab insurgents and tribesmen who turned against Al Qaeda in Iraq and formed alliances with the United States.

Hussein's death was confirmed by a police officer and the head of another awakening council. Both requested anonymity for security reasons. The US military said it knew of one person killed and another wounded in that attack.

In political developments, Iraq's parliament voted to lift the immunity of a Sunni Arab lawmaker who visited Israel to attend a counterterrorism conference this month. Mithal al-Alusi was also barred from traveling outside Iraq or attending parliamentary sessions.

Osama al-Nujeifi, a Sunni Arab lawmaker, and Shi'ite lawmaker Haider al-Ibadi said Alusi's trip was illegal and a humiliation for Iraqis who see Israel as a historic enemy.

Also yesterday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki formed a committee to investigate the killing of four employees of the Iraqi television network Al-Sharqiya as they filmed an episode on the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began two weeks ago.

The Iraqi government has repeatedly accused Al-Sharqiya of bias, sensationalism and spreading anti-government propaganda. Owned by a former chief of radio and television for Saddam Hussein, the station is seen by many Shi'ites as pro-Sunni.

The employees of the station were abducted and killed Saturday in the northern city of Mosul. They included the head of the station's office in Mosul, two cameramen, and a driver.

Maliki's office said in a statement that he had ordered security forces "to chase down the perpetrators and bring them to justice for punishment."

US Ambassador Ryan Crocker also condemned the killings.

Brigadier Khalid Abdul-Sattar, the police spokesman in Ninevah province, said 80 people were detained for questioning.

Before Saturday's attack, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists had reported that 132 journalists and 50 other media employees had been killed since the 2003 start of the Iraq war.

Also yesterday, the US military said two American soldiers died of causes unrelated to combat. The military said both soldiers died yesterday and were assigned to Multi-National Division-Center, which operates south of Baghdad.

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