Updated at 5:02 p.m. EST, March 7, 2009
At least 11 Iraqis were killed and 20 more were wounded in the latest violence. One U.S. soldier was killed during an attack in Salah ad Din province as well. Meanwhile, the prime minister called for a stronger, non-sectarian government but the arrests of several men left his critics wondering whether Maliki means what he says. In brighter news, a pilgrimage brought millions to Samarra without incident.
A day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spoke of reconciliation with Baath Party members, Iraqi security forces were arrested several men accused of belonging to a neo-Baathist group. The prime minister also called for a stronger, non-sectarian government. Some critics have called the prime minister a dictator and fear the consolidation of power in Baghdad.
A Sunni official said that two Sunni clerics were detained this week, but lawyers have as yet not determined the reason for the arrests. The Interior Ministry has denied knowledge of the arrests. However, the ministry has previously denied knowledge of similar arrests only to later admit they were holding people. The ministry was also once known for harboring Shi’ite death squads during the height of the sectarian violence that nearly ripped Iraq apart.
Although violence has faded through most of the country, Iraqi women face a perhaps more frightening future. Many widows are not receiving their pensions, and the access to clean water is another concern. A significant amount of women remain displaced while some send their children to school. Separately, a psychological study underscored that Iraqis lack proper mental health care.
No casualties were reported after millions of Iraqis visited the al-Askari mosque in Samarra. The mosque’s golden dome, minarets and clock towers were demolished during bomb attacks in 2006 and 2007. The 2006 bombing exacerbated sectarian tensions and launched massive killing sprees across Iraq. This pilgrimage commemorates the death of Imam Hassan al Askari.
U.S. forces killed a man in Baiji. A military source said the man fired upon U.S. troops and they in turn shot him in self-defense. The man’s relatives said that he was killed in front of them. It is unclear whether an incident in which a U.S. soldier killed in Salah ad Din today is related to this shooting.
In Mosul, the body of a nine-year-old girl was found. A retired army officer was killed. Four civilians were wounded when a bomb was detonated inside a food shop. Gunmen killed two Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint. A hand grenade tossed at a security patrol killed a soldier and wounded a civilian. A bomb exploded near a police patrol and wounded two policemen and a civilian. Another bomb, this one at a checkpoint, wounded a policeman.
In Baghdad, a bomb on Palestine St. killed one civilian and wounded eight other people. A pair of bombs on Wathiq Sq. left three wounded. A roadside bomb targeting a U.S. patrol in Zaafaraniyah left no casualties.
Two bodies were found in Makhmour. The district lies within an area claimed by Kurdistan but administered by the central government. Several dumped bodies have been found there in recent weeks.
A roadside bomb near Tikrit killed two civilians last night.
An Iraqi army officer was arrested in Amara for possession of 13 missiles.
Eight al-Qaeda suspects were detained in Diyala province.
Near Qaim, security forces picked-up five men suspected of planting roadside bombs.
A cache of explosives was found in Amara.
Explosives belts and roadside bombs were recovered from a home during a raid in Abu Seif.
Ten men suspected of involvement in Thursday’s livestock market bombing in Hilla were rounded up for investigation. Four of the men were working as guards at the market.
Turkish artillery bombed an area north of Arbil, but no casualties were reported.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis