Updated at 5:07 p.m. EST, Mar. 23, 2009
An astounding serious of bombings and other attacks killed at least 45 Iraqis and wounded 96 more across the country. Meanwhile, Iraq’s Interior Minister said that a hiring freeze for security forces will not affect the U.S. drawdown; however, Turkish leaders are separately discussing their relationship with the U.S and Iraq which could affect the manner of withdrawal.
Turkish president Abdullah Gul arrived in Iraq for the first visit by the head of this neighboring country since 1976. High on his list of important issues is the desire for Iraq to crackdown on Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) rebels, who use Iraq to launch cross border attacks into Turkey. In turn, Iraq will ask Turkey to allow more water through its dams and into the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. During a press conference, Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani, who is a Kurd himself, warned the rebels to disarm themselves or leave the country.
Separately, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview that Turkey could allow the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq through Turkish territory.
Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said that oil prices are forcing a hiring freeze that will eliminate 66,000 new police jobs. He added that the freeze will not affect the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
A suicide bomber struck at a Kurdish funeral in Jalawla. At least 25 people were killed and 45 others were wounded. Jalawla is in a predominantly Kurdish part of Diyala province. Tensions between local authorities and the central government increased last year when the central government chose to exert more authority in the area. Many residents would prefer annexation by the neighboring Kurdish Autonomous Region and use Kurdish Peshmerga for projection. Recent elections only broadened the rift.
At least nine people were killed in Abu Ghraib and 23 more were wounded during a bomb blast. Conflicting reports have the blast being a car bomb in a garage or a roadside bomb near auto shops. This suburb of Baghdad suffered a major bombing less than two weeks ago.
Eight people were killed and nine others were wounded during a bomb attack on the home of a sheikh in Fallujah. Two children were among the dead.
A suicide bomber killed one policeman and injured five people in Tal Afar.
In Mosul, a suicide bomber seriously injured four policemen and two civilians. Two civilians were wounded in a roadside bomb blast. Gunmen lobbed a grenade at a U.S. patrol, but no casualties were reported.
Thirty suspects were detained in Missan.
Two al-Qaeda suspects were detained in Iskandariya.
Ten al-Qaeda suspects were arrested across Diyala province.
In Buhriz, 150 improvised explosive devices were discovered.
Seventeen suspects were arrested across Basra and a number of vehicles were confiscated.
Two weapons caches were discovered in separate locations around Karbala.
Compiled by Margaret Griffis