Updated at 7:35 p.m .EDT, Oct. 21, 2008
Yet another mass grave
was discovered today. Like the others this week, the victims were buried for months,
if not years. Overall, at least 27 Iraqis were killed or found dead, and another
56 were wounded in the latest reports. Also, Kazakhstan pulled
its troops out of Iraq, as their five-year peacekeeping mission has ended. Meanwhile,
the Vatican has asked Iraq
to protect Christians in Mosul, and the Interior Ministry raided Buhriz in search
of Sahwa members.
A mass grave containing nine
bodies was found in Latifiya. They had been buried for over a year.
Clashes that left 15
dead and 40 wounded were reported in an area between Ramadi and Jurf
al-Sakhar. Gunmen from Ramadi apparently attacked two tribes over property
issues. The fighting occurred
in Babel province, where U.S. forces are expected to hand over security to the
Iraqis on Thursday.
In Baghdad, shelling wounded
five people in Saidiya. A roadside bomb blast on Palestine St.
left one dead and three wounded.
Two civilians were wounded
when a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol blasted them instead. One
dumped body was found. Iraqi forces detained
29 suspects and defused a bomb. Coalition forces detained
three suspects. A weapons cache was found in Sadr City. Also, almost 50
families were able to return
In Mosul, one
body was found. A wounded gunman
was captured during a clash. A car bomber was stopped
before he could blow up his explosives. Two suspects were arrested,
and police defused a bomb under a bridge. Three
Iraqi soldiers were wounded during a roadside bombing. Also, a sniper wounded
another Iraqi soldier.
Multiple bombs affected an area near Duluiya.
In one blast, a civilian was wounded.
Another attack destroyed a water treatment plant that was nearing completion.
Lack of access to potable water is a significant problem in Iraq, which has suffered
cholera epidemics due to tainted water supplies.
In Samawa, 500kg
of explosives were found.
An al-Qaeda suspect was detained
In Khanaqin, a weapons cache was found.
Ammunition was found
near Amara, while a hostage was liberated
in a separate incident.
Four suspects were detained
The Interior Ministry raided
the home of an Awakening Council (Sahwa) leader in Buhriz this morning.
Mullah Shihab al-Safi was not at home, but his father and brother were arrested,
and Safi is now in hiding. A total of five members were detained
across the city. Security forces from the Interior Ministry are also known as
police commandos or national police. They are still feared by many Iraqis because
sectarian death squads would blatantly operate from within the forces. Some reform
has limited the killings, but corruption is still rampant within the ministry.
Sahwa Councils formed last year when Sunni Arabs, tired of al-Qaeda, formed U.S.-backed
security groups. They are also known as popular committees. At the beginning of
October, the U.S. handed authority of the committees to the Iraqi government,
but the government has been very slow integrating the fighters into the regular
security forces. Many Sahwa members believe
that the Shi'ite-led government will be unfavorable to them and have accused the
government of targeting Sahwa for arrest even though they are now fighting against
terrorism and are loyal to Iraq.
The Iraqi government has been desperate
to reign in the volatile Diyala province, where Buhriz is located. A security
operation over the summer was highly criticized for giving gunmen too much early
notice. Security forces instead arrested many loyal Iraqis and harassed local
government and security authorities. In particular, troops forcibly attempted
to take over security from Peshmerga Fighters in Kurdish villages near the Kurdistan
Autonomous Region. Although outright fighting ended there, the conflict was not
adequately resolved and could re-ignite at any time.
by Margaret Griffis