Updated at 11:00 p.m. EDT, June 19, 2008
Few casualties were reported today in Iraq, but violations by security forces during an operation in a southern city threaten to unravel a tenuous cease-fire and may bring heavy violence back to the country. At least 14 Iraqis were killed and five more suffered injuries across Iraq. No Coalition deaths were reported.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s latest security operation formally began in Amara today. Since the British handed over security to local forces in April of last year, the southern city has been relatively quiet compared to most of Iraq, but it is also a stronghold of al-Maliki’s political opponent, Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
A similar operation that began last March in nearby Basra went awry when al-Sadr supporters fought back. Violence quickly spread throughout southern Iraq and into Baghdad and hundreds of people were killed. Many supporters, as well as Western analysts, believed that the security crackdown was actually an attempt to undermine al-Sadr’s political power ahead of elections which will take place in October. The violence ended after negotiations between the Sadrists and the central government led to a second cease-fire. Al-Sadr originally called for one last summer and has ordered his followers to observe it now despite the security operation.
In today’s events in Amara, 17 people were detained. Among them was a top Sadrist official who is also the mayor of the city and acting deputy governor for Maysan province, of which Amara is the capital. A member of the provincial council was also picked up. Sadrist officials say that this violates the spirit of truce agreements and demonstrates deliberate targeting of Sadrists. Other violations have been noted.
In Baghdad, two dumped bodies were found. A bomb attached to a car killed one man and wounded four others in Bayaa. Near Mustansiriya University, a bomb failed to leave any casualties. A bomb targeting a U.S. convoy in Waziriya damaged a vehicle. Also, 18 people were arrested, and 15 bombs were defused.
Six people, including a child, were killed when a U.S. vehicle struck their car near Hilla. It is unclear whether the incident was accidental, but the convoy in which the vehicle was traveling did not stop.
In Mosul, an off-duty policeman was shot dead, but police were able to kill one of the attackers. Gunmen opened fire on a couple leaving their home; the woman was killed instantly, but her husband was only wounded.
Police in Tuz Khormato discovered a body bearing gunshot wounds and torture marks.
The body of a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) was found several hours after he was kidnapped in Jalawla.
Twenty-one suspects were captured across northern Iraq.
Two gunmen were detained in Mahaweel, and their weapons were confiscated.
A Sadrist was arrested in Mussayab.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis