Updated at 11:47 p.m. EST, Dec. 31, 2008
At midnight Baghdad time, foreign troops came under the authority of Iraqi officials. The number of violent attacks on the last day of a U.N. mandate however points to the fragility of Iraqi peace. At least 14 Iraqis were killed and another 70 were wounded. Two U.S. soldiers were also killed in separate attacks.
U.S officials vacated a Green Zone palace ahead of the handover of security to Iraqi forces. The U.N. mandate that authorized the placement of troops in Iraq expires at midnight. To cover the continued presence of troops, Iraq has signed security agreements with the U.S., U.K and Australia.
A car bomb in Sinjar killed four people and wounded 45 others. The Yazidi, who belong to a small pre-Islamic sect frequently targeted by militants, make up the bulk of the population in Sinjar. Last year, over 500 people were killed in one incident targeting the group.
In Mosul, a pair of bombs targeting police killed four bystanders and wounded 20 others. Gunmen killed a candidate in upcoming elections; one policeman was killed and another was wounded during the ensuing chase. Two bodies were discovered.
Two Iraqi soldiers were killed and two others were wounded during a roadside bomb attack in Khanaqin.
A sticky bomb killed two civilians in Mussayab.
Two policemen were wounded as they tried to defuse a bomb in Saidiya.
Arbil is under increased security for the new year.
A roadside bomb was defused in Garma.
Two al-Qaeda suspects were captured north of Baquba.
In Kirkuk, five rockets were discovered.
Basra police arrested a Soldier of Heaven leader along with four other suspects. The cult has staged massive attacks before and was allegedly planning one during the upcoming Ashura holiday. Eighteen other suspects were are detained, one wearing women’s clothing. Ammunition and weapons were found as well.
Two Katyusha rockets were fired at an MNF base in Kut.
Iranian Refugees at Camp Ashraf are afraid they will be turned over to Iran where they face possible torture or execution. U.S. soldiers will remain at the refugee camp after the handover of security to Iraqi forces, but Iraq still wants the group to leave. No third party country has been found that will accept the group. At one time, many in the group belonged to the People’s Mujahideen, so they are classified as a terrorist group, but they gave up their weapons after the U.S. invasion, and the U.S. has protected them since.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis
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