Updated at 6:35 p.m. EDT, Mar. 29, 2009
At least 10 Iraqis were killed and 72 more were wounded, mostly in bomb blasts across the country. Rioting and arrests continued in Baghdad’s Fadhil neighborhood. No Coalition deaths were reported, but British troops are on a general suicide watch even though they have begun their drawdown. Also, a U.N. report is expected to suggest a number of power-sharing options for the multi-ethnic, oil-rich Kirkuk province.
Iraqi troops rounded up more Awakening Council (Sahwa) members today in Baghdad’s Fadhil neighborhood, and a U.S.-Iraqi team exchanged gunfire with rioters today. Yesterday, riots erupted over the arrest of the local leader on charges of terrorism. Four died and 10 more were wounded in yesterday’s clashes. Eleven new casualties were reported in a second day of clashes. Authorities held meetings with groups in other parts of the city to assure them that this was a legitimate arrest and not harassment of the Sunni group by the Shi’ite-led government. The head of the movement, Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, condemned the actions of the Fadhil chapter.
The Sahwa movement, which is comprised of Sunni Arabs, is credited with reducing violence across Iraq. Still, there is mistrust on both sides with the Iraqi government wanting to arrest those who had fought alongside al-Qaeda before switching loyalties. On the other side, many Sahwa members claim they have not been paid in months and some may not be integrated into regular security forces or other employment as promised. The U.S. had been paying the group’s salaries until last October when they were handed over to Iraqi control. Should the truce unravel it could mean a delay in the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Elsewhere in Baghdad, two people were killed and eight were wounded during a bombing in Adhamiya. A policeman was wounded during a bombing, also in Adhamiya. A bomb planted on a car in Ghadeer wounded four bystanders. At least 20 suspects were detained and five bombs were defused in security operations across Baghdad.
At least six people were killed and seven others were wounded when a roadside bomb at an oil installation outside Basra was detonated. One of the dead was a policeman. The injured included sanitation workers. Fourteen suspects were detained and two missiles were seized during operations across the province.
A roadside bomb wounded eight policemen in Kirkuk. Gunmen killed a man. Meanwhile, the U.N. is going to suggest a power-sharing scheme for the province. The multi-ethnic provice is much coveted for its oil revenue, so a solution must be found that will not set off a civil war. Kurds would like to see the province annexed to Kurdistan, while Arabs prefer the central government. Several other minorities want to have their say (and oil profits) as well. Iraqi politicians have postponed settlement until at least June.
Seven policemen were wounded during a blast in Fihaylat, near Fallujah.
Munitions were discovered in Karbala.
Nine al-Qaeda suspects were arrested in Muqdadiya.