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January 23, 2009
Friday: 1 US Soldier, 11 Iraqis Killed; 3 Iraqis Wounded

At least 11 people were killed and three were wounded in the latest attacks. A U.S. soldier also died, in a vehicle accident south of Baghdad yesterday. Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker warned that a hasty withdrawal of U.S. forces could unravel hard-earned security gains as top military officials met with U.S. President Obama to discuss a drawdown.

Eight people where killed when gunmen stormed their home near Balad Ruz in Maamil. Two others were kidnapped. In one report, five women and a 12-year-old girl were among the dead. The motive for the killing might have been sectarian as the victims belonged to a Sunni family and were living in a Shi'ite neighborhood. Another source gave one extra victim and reported that the family was traveling through the area when killed.

In Baghdad, a bomb hidden in a traffic booth killed a 7-year-old boy and wounded his mother. A roadside bomb in Khadraa left one dead and three wounded.

A suspected "special groups" leader was arrested in Hay. "Special groups" is a term used by U.S. forces to describe Iranian-backed militants.

With provincial elections just days away, Sunni candidates in Anbar province hope to legitimately take over control of local government. The Sunnis sat out the last elections after U.S. operations in Fallujah left hundreds dead, but have since come to work with U.S. forces and the central Iraqi government. Further north and west, Iraqi and Turkish officials agreed to cooperate on ridding their border areas of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels.

A security official reiterated Iraq's position on closing Camp Ashraf in Diyala province today, but now the government insists it will be closed within two months. The central government wants to close the refugee camp and expel its Iranian residents in order to improve relations with neighboring Iran. There is no third country willing to accept the refugees, and they fear returning home where they might be subjected to torture and executions.

Many there once belonged to the People's Mujahedin of Iran, which has been labeled a terrorist group; however, the European Union is considered dropping that designation as the group has since renounced violence. Although Iraqi officials have frequently complained about Camp Ashraf, this two-month time limit would be a significant change in policy, perhaps brought on by recent claims that a resident confessed to plotting a violent attack that would embarrass the Iraqi government.

 

Compiled by Margaret Griffis

 
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