- The commander of an Iraqi counter-terrorism unit has
been assassinated in a further demonstration of the insurgency's penetration
of government structures on a day that saw massive loss of life across
- Maj-Gen Wael al-Rubaye, a security adviser to the Iraqi
cabinet, was shot dead while being driven to work. His bodyguard and driver
also died in the ambush by gunmen in two cars at 8.45am in the Mansur district.
A group led by the Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed
responsibility for the killing in a statement posted on an internet site
normally used by the rebels.
- The assassinaion took place during another lethal day
across the country which culminated with two car bombs exploding outside
the offices of a Shia organisation in the town of Tal Afar in northern
Iraq, leaving at least 20 people dead.
- Earlier, a car bombing of a north Baghdad restaurant
at lunchtime left eight people dead and 110 injured. The Habaniyah restaurant
near Sadr City is said to be frequented by followers of the Shia militia
leader Muqtada al-Sadr as well as local police officers and soldiers.
- Most of the casualties were members of the security forces.
But Iraqi police said they regarded the attack as designed to inflame relations
between Shia and Sunni communities. Sunni militias have been accused of
stepping up sectarian attacks since Shia-dominated parties won the elections
at the end of January.
- Later, a suicide car bomber targeted a Shia mosque in
Mahmoudiya, a mixed Sunni and Shia town 25 miles south of Baghdad, killing
10 people and wounding 23, many of them children, doctors said.
- A suicide bomber killed five people and wounded 13 when
he drove an explosives-packed pick-up truck into a crowd outside a council
office in the northern town of Tuz Khormato.
- Iraqi and US forces had launched a major offensive in
Baghdad, arresting 285 suspects, in an attempt to counter a new upsurge
in violence which has left 400 dead in the past two weeks.
- They insisted the operation,Squeeze Play, had been successful
and that information gleaned had led to the capture of Muthanna Shihab
al-Douri, an alleged insurgent leader and the nephew of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri,
previously a senior member of Saddam Hussein's regime.
- But the killing of Maj-Gen Rubaye, the 17th government
official to be assassinated in the past month, and the latest spate of
car-bombings, were being highlighted as an example of how little control
the Iraqi government and itsAmerican sponsor is able to exercise.
- The aim of the insurgents was now "to prove that
Iraq is ungovernable", a senior British official said. "They've
got very good penetration," he said.
- Zarqawi's group also said it had killed an American pilot
it had captured, naming him as Neenus Khoshaba. His brother, Bolus, said:
"Neenus had never worked for the US military. He was looking for work
in Iraq and all we know is that he has been kidnapped."
- Despite the claims by Zarqawi's group, there is some
scepticism among officials in Iraq that the insurgency is mainly the work
of foreign fighters.
- "If Zarqawi and his merry men were rounded up, would
the insurgency stop? No. It is more complex than that," the British
- ©2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.