Updated at 8:20 p.m. EST, March 1, 2009
At least four Iraqis were killed and eight more were wounded in violence today. No Coalition casualties were reported. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Ministry of Health reported that casualty figures surged in February, but they are still low compared to previous years. Also, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that he retains the authority to alter President Obama’s withdrawal plans should national security warrants such change.
The number of deaths for February rose by approximately 50% over January’s figures. The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported that 211 Iraqis were killed in violence acts during the month. Although up from January of this year, the number is only a third of last February’s figures and significantly lower than 1,645, the number of killed in February 2007.
Approximately 2,000 Shi’ites marched in Diyala province to protest the outcome of recent elections there. The outcome of polling in the multi-ethnic province left the Sunnis with 15 seats on the council. Kurds took six seats and Shi’ites were left with five. Three seats went to a secular party. Similar protests in Anbar province eventually led to the discovery and correction of voter fraud there, but that was accomplished before results were certified across Iraq.
Police in Jalawla, a heavily Kurdish area of Diyala, arrested ten Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) members on suspicion of firing upon a policeman, who was wounded in the incident. A PUK official said he was unaware of any members being involved in the crime and suggested that the arrests were political in nature. Tensions between the Kurds and the central government have increased over the last year, particularly in parts of Diyala where the Kurdish population would like to be annexed to Iraqi Kurdistan. The PUK is a legal political party. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani belongs to it. Later in the day, the men were released, but 48 more suspects were arrested.
A roadside bomb blast wounded the mayor of Samarra.
In Baghdad, security forces killed a man who was apparently moving bombs from one location to another.
An al-Qaeda suspect was arrested in Mosul. Seven suspected Islamic State of Iraq group members were arrested on charges including the planting of roadside bombs. A pair of roadside bombs wounded three Iraqi soldiers. Also, one Iraqi soldier was killed and another two were wounded in a roadside bomb blast.
Five gunmen were arrested near Kut.
Five long-range rockets were discovered in Wassit.
U.S. forces will hand over the archaeological site of Ur.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis