Da Arab News del 28/03/2006
Originale su http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4&section=0&article=79890&d=...

Storm Over Iraq Mosque Raid

BAGHDAD, 28 March 2006 — Iraq’s ruling Shiite alliance yesterday demanded US forces return control of security to Iraqis after what it called the cold-blooded killing of unarmed people in a Baghdad mosque during a US-Iraqi raid.

It made the demand as angry Shiites buried those killed in Sunday’s operation. The US military has denied targeting a mosque.

In northern Iraq, a suicide bomber killed 40 army recruits after walking into an Iraqi base near the restive city of Mosul.

“The Alliance calls for a rapid restoration of (control of) security matters to the Iraqi government,” Jawad Al-Maliki, a senior spokesman of the United Iraqi Alliance and ally of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, told a news conference.

Some Shiite government officials have joined aides to Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr in accusing US troops of massacring worshippers at the Mustafa Mosque near Sadr City, a poor district that is home to about two million Shiites.

The group led by Sadr also forms part of the powerful ruling alliance.

The US military said Iraqi troops, with US advisers, only returned fire during a raid against militants, killing 16 people, and that no mosque was entered or damaged.

But government-run Iraqi media have portrayed the operation as a US raid on unarmed worshippers. The building is not a traditional mosque but a former Baath party compound used by Shiites for prayers and other religious events and is known locally as the Mustafa Mosque.

President Jalal Talabani said those responsible must be punished. “I called the American ambassador yesterday and we decided to form an Iraqi-American committee to investigate the attack. I will personally supervise, and we will learn who was responsible. Those who are behind this attack must be brought to justice and punished,” Talabani said.

Baghdad Gov. Hussein Tahan said the local government had cut ties to the US military and diplomatic mission “because of the cowardly attack on the Mustafa Mosque.”

Neighboring Iran branded the raid as a terrorist act by US forces. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is repulsed by the merciless killing of worshippers in the Mustafa Hussieniyeh (Shiite prayer hall) in Baghdad and considers it a savage terrorist act,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.

Tehran demanded an investigation into the affair. “Given the existing evidence of the American forces’ involvement in this criminal act, we want the international community and human rights organizations to look into the issue,” Asefi said.

The bombing in the north occurred between Mosul and Tal Afar, a town US President George W. Bush has recently held up as an example of security progress in Iraq. The suicide bomber targeted a recruitment center at an Iraqi Army base called Tamarat, close to the Syrian border.

A militant coalition led by Al-Qaeda’s Iraq branch claimed it was behind the attack. “A brother... from Mohammed’s Peninsula... wearing an explosives belt plunged this morning into the crusaders’ base northeast of Tal Afar and infiltrated among hundreds of recruits before blowing himself up,” said the statement on Internet by the Mujahedeen Consultative Council.

The council, established in January, groups seven Sunni armed factions and is dominated by Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi branch led by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.

In continuing sectarian violence, at least 21 more bodies were found — many with a noose around their neck — and mortar, rocket and bomb attacks killed at least 11 people in Baghdad and other towns.

In the capital, a bomb exploded in a bus headed for the Sadr City, killing two passengers and wounding four others, police Col. Hassan Jaloob said. The bomb had been left in a bag.

A rocket that hit the headquarters of the Shiite Fadhila party in southeast Baghdad killed seven people and wounded at least 13, including children, police Capt. Ali Mahdi said.

The latest violence came a day after 69 people were reported killed in one of the bloodiest 24-hour periods in weeks. Most of the dead appeared to be victims of the shadowy Sunni-Shiite score-settling that has torn at the fabric of Iraq since Feb. 22 when a Shiite shrine was blown apart in Samarra, north of Baghdad.

Among the 21 bodies reported yesterday, nine were found in west Baghdad, police Lt. Akeel Fadhil said.

Three bodies, of two men and a woman shot in the head, were found late Sunday in east Baghdad, police said.

At a farm east of Baghdad, the bodies of nine men kidnapped a day earlier were discovered by relatives, police said. All had been shot in the head.

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