Da Arab News del 03/05/2005
Originale su http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=63129&d=...

Iraq Violence Unabated as 23 More Die

di Naseer Al-Nahr

BAGHDAD — A torrent of bloodshed — at least 140 killed in five days — followed the approval of a Cabinet that mostly shut out members of the disaffected Sunni minority as Iraq’s incoming prime minister struggled yesterday to find a Sunni to run the key Defense Ministry in time to join Iraq’s first democratically elected government when it takes office.

At least 23 Iraqis were killed yesterday, including eight soldiers cut down by a suicide attacker who detonated a truck packed with explosives at a checkpoint south of the capital, and six civilians caught in a car bombing that set fire to a Baghdad apartment building. A British soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in the southern city of Amarah.

In New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement strongly condemning the “cruel and heartless” violence apparently aimed at undermining Iraq’s newly formed government.

The skyrocketing attacks are blamed on an insurgency believed largely made up of members of Iraq’s Sunni minority, who dominated for decades under Saddam Hussein but were excluded from meaningful positions in a partial new Cabinet announced Thursday.

Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim Jaafari had promised to form a government that would win over Sunni moderates and reduce Sunni support for the insurgency.

Yesterday, Jaafari aide Laith Kuba said the incoming premier had filled six of the seven Cabinet seats left undecided last week, but disputes remained over the key Defense Ministry portfolio, which is destined for a Sunni.

Jaafari’s initial choice for defense minister was rejected by members of his Shiite-dominated alliance because of suspected ties to Saddam’s Baath party, which brutally repressed the majority Shiites and Kurds. Since then, rival Sunni factions have submitted a number of candidates for the job. Three Sunni lawmakers quit Jaafari’s alliance, complaining he should look within his own coalition first to fill Cabinet posts.

Jaafari wants to have all positions finalized before the new government is sworn in today, Kuba said. He declined to identify those already selected before they are presented to the interim National Assembly for approval.

On Jan. 30, millions of Iraqis risked their lives to elect the Shiite-dominated assembly, but many Sunnis boycotted the vote or stayed home for fear of attacks at the polls. After months of wrangling, Jaafari has drawn up a Cabinet that so far includes 15 Shiite ministers, seven Kurds, four Sunnis and one Christian. Two of four deputy premiers have also been named, a Shiite and a Kurd.

But even with Sunnis in Cabinet, Iraqi insurgents have made clear there will be no letup in the unrelenting violence of recent weeks. The country’s most feared terror group, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, has posted statements on the Internet saying any Iraqi government is a puppet of the US-led coalition, and it will attack any Sunnis who join it. A suicide bomber exploded a truck at an Iraqi checkpoint near Youssifiyah, 20 kilometers south of Baghdad, killing eight soldiers and wounding 20, said Iraqi Army Capt. Qassem Sharif.

Two car bombs in Baghdad killed at least nine more Iraqis yesterday. One exploded in an upscale shopping district in southern Baghdad and set fire to a six-story apartment building. Six civilians were killed and seven wounded in the explosion, which missed a police patrol, said police Lt. Col. Salman Abdul Karim Al-Fartosi. As firefighters fought the blaze, thick black smoke and flames rose from the ground floor.

In eastern Baghdad, a car bomb exploded near a passport office, killing three Iraqis, including two policemen, and wounding six, three of them policemen, said police Lt. Col. Hassan Chalob.

An American military patrol and a top Iraqi security official narrowly escaped two other bombings, US and Iraqi officials said.

In northern Iraq, a suicide car bomb and an improvised explosive devise went off in quick succession near an American patrol in the Mosul area, the US military said. The coordinated attacks killed at least two Iraqis and wounded 15, military spokesman Capt. Mark Walter said. Hospital officials, however, said four Iraqis were killed and seven injured.

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