Updated at 4:31 p.m. EDT, May 20, 2009
A major car bombing in the capital interrupted an otherwise quiet day in Iraq. At least 43 Iraqis were reported killed and 79 more were wounded. The only political news came from Diyala where the police chief reiterated the central government’s claims that the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq is in custody and added that the man was also a provincial politician.
In Baghdad, at least 41 people were killed and 76 more were wounded when a car bomb exploded near kebab in Shula. The neighborhood was once a stronghold of Shi’ite militias, so authorities believe this bombing to be the work of Sunni extremists. A separate roadside bomb in Shabb left no casualties. Meanwhile, it appears that U.S. forces will leave Hurriyah earlier than the June 30 deadline.
The Diyala province police chief reported that the man believed to be Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was once on the local council in Buhriz. The Iraqi government recently captured the man and claimed he was the Islamic State of Iraq leader, but another man claiming to be al-Baghdadi has denied these claims. Some experts believe that al-Baghdadi is merely a fictional character created to bolster support for al-Qaeda in Iraq.
In either case, Buhriz was once a significant focus of violence, and it is highly possible that al-Qaeda members once infiltrated the local council. Still, the timing of this news, when other Sunni leaders in Diyala were recently arrested there on questionable evidence, could be taken as part of a campaign against Sunni elements in Diyala.
In Mosul, two soldiers were wounded in a Zahraa area bomb blast. Gunmen killed a civilian in Zinjili. A body was found today in the Jisr al Sewess neighborhood, where another body was found yesterday.
A roadside bomb blast in Kirkuk wounded a bodyguard working for the police chief.