The first U.S. soldier to die since the withdrawal of combat troops this week was killed in during a rocket attack in Basra today. At least four Iraqis were killed and 43 more were wounded in other attacks.
Gen. Ray Odierno, who is the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, acknowledged that combat troops could return if Iraqi security forces completely fail. Barring that, the approximately 52,000 American troops who remain in Iraq could be transferred next year. Although a 2008 agreement between Iraq and the U.S. calls for the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of 2011, Iraq could ask for an extension. Some Iraqi commanders would have American troops stay as late as 2020. In what may be a bad omen, the Iraqi government admitted that Margaret Hassan’s killer broke out of prison nearly a year ago, but they only found out about the escape last month.
An al-Ahrar bloc legislator blamed Prime Nouri al-Maliki’s "dictatorship" for their decision to halt negotiations with his State of Law party and suggested this may be the issue for other blocs as well. For their part, Iraqiya stood by their candidate former premier Ayad Allawi. Allawi will soon travel to Damascus to meet with Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. An agreement between the two could signal an end to the political stalemate preventing the seating of the new government. The March election provided no clear winner.
According to Planning Minister Ali Baban, the national census will take place on Oct. 24 despite objections. Previous attempts to count the population were postponed over the politicization of the census, particularly in the multi-ethnic areas of the north.
In Baghdad, eight patrons were wounded during a blast at a coffee shop in Risala. Five people were wounded in an explosion near a Saidiya neighborhood college. A blast wounded three civilians in Harithiya. In Bayaa, an explosion wounded one person. A mobile phone shop owner was killed during a robbery in Zayouna, while a separate blast wounded two people at a liquor store. Also in Zayouna, one civilian was killed and one policeman was wounded in a shootout, but one gunman was arrested. A bomb wounded an employee of the Badr Organization. Gunmen also stole $600,000 meant to pay the staff’s salaries of the veterinary college. Several roads were closed due to the bombs, causing traffic jams.
A bomb exploded at a cooling equipment store in Mussayab, killing one and wounded 11 others.
Nine people were wounded and forty more were arrested for rioting in Nasariya after yesterday’s demonstrations against power shortages. Police used water cannons to disperse about 250 people who participated in the riot.
Gunmen killed a policeman in Fallujah.
A bomb in Taji wounded two people.
An al-Qaeda suspect was arrested in Muqdadiya.