Updated at 6:30 p.m. EDT, June 28, 2009
Widespread sand storms blanketed much of central and northern Iraq, curtailing attacks, or at least the reports of violence. The storms also delayed the awarding of oil contracts. Iraq forces are using the break, however, to bolster their defenses ahead of the U.S. withdrawal from the cities. Iraq has cancelled leave for all policemen. Gen. Ray Odierno believes the Iraqis are ready for Tuesday’s handover. He also said that a recent surge in attacks would likely hurt extremists more than it does their victims. Still, at least five Iraqis were killed and 21 more were wounded across the country.
In Hamrin Dam, a roadside bomb blasted a car, killing the driver and wounding three members of his family. Nearby, gunmen killed the brother of an Iraqi lieutenant colonel when they could not find the army officer; they left a bomb that injured two more people.
Gunmen in Mosul killed an imam and a civilian in separate incidents yesterday. Ninewa judges held a sit-in in protest of the physical assault on two judges by police. Several policemen are accused of firing upon three judges, but only wounding two of them several days ago.
A bomb blasted a vehicle belonging to a local official in Ramadi. Her husband was killed and the official was wounded.
Three suspects were captured and two explosives belts were confiscated near Kirkuk.
Officials and residents of Baquba are celebrating the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the restive city.
Six al-Qaeda suspects were detained in Diyala province.
Three bombs were defused in Khalis.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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