18 Killed in Iraq as Officials Mull Security Issues Ahead of Arab League Summit

A disturbing slaughter could point to more attacks after gunmen killed nine people during a robbery in Baghdad. Overall, at least 18 Iraqis were killed and 17 more were wounded across the country. Also, Iraqi forces may shut down air and vehicular traffic in Baghdad to protect visiting dignitaries during the Arab League summit later this month.

According to Lieutenant General Hassan al-Baydhani, Iraqi forces will try to keep Baghdad open during the Arab League summit on March 29. However, they are ready to shut the city down to unrelated traffic should conditions warrant. The obvious fear is that insurgents will use that day to draw media attention.

Although security around the dignitaries will be intense, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says random car bombs and other attacks are still expected. Pre-summit arrests have already begun, even outside the capital. The League’s Secretary General, Nabil al-Arabi, will arrive ahead of the delegation to check on these security preparations.

It is the first time the 22-member group has met in Iraq since 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait. They were to have met in Baghdad last year, but the Arab Spring revolutions forced a postponement. The lack of solid security in Iraq was likely another factor.

Separately, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said some countries might choose not to send their heads of state in protest of Shi’ite interference in the coalition government. And, Syria’s suspension from the League means the restive country will have no representation even though its troubles will certainly be discussed.

At least 18 Iraqis were killed and 17 more were wounded in the latest round of violence:

In Baghdad today, gunmen attacked a string of gold shops in the Ur neighborhood, killing at least nine and wounding 15 others; such robberies are believed to fund other insurgent activities. A man carrying grenades was arrested in Bab al-Sharqi.

Five policemen were killed in two separate incidents in Tarmiya. At least one policeman was also wounded. One attack was on the mayor’s office. Only yesterday, one of the mayor’s bodyguards was killed during a home invasion.

In Mosul, gunmen killed a soldier guarding a checkpoint. A Shabak man was killed and his wife was wounded during a home invasion.

The body of a 15-year-old was discovered in Samarra. The youth had been tortured.

Gunmen killed a woman in Mussayab.

Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for Antiwar.com since 2006.