Neighbourhood patrols hit in Iraq

Neighbourhood patrols hit in Iraq

A female suicide bomber has detonated explosives at a checkpoint manned by neighbourhood patrol volunteers in the capital of Diyala province, killing 10 people and wounding eight, Iraqi police say.

Two policemen and four patrol volunteers were among the dead in the attack on Wednesday near a hospital in Baquba, 60km northeast of Baghdad.

Among those killed was Abdul-Rafaa al-Nidawi, whom police described as the co-ordinator between US forces and the volunteer patrols in the city.

The mainly Sunni Arab neighbourhood patrols, paid by US forces to oppose al-Qaeda fighters, have frequently been targeted in recent months.

Meanwhile, in the Iraqi capital, police have raised the death toll from a suicide attack at a funeral the day before by four to 36.

Zayouna attacks

In Tuesday”s attack, the bomber detonated his explosives amid men gathered in the eastern Zayouna neighbourhood for the funeral of Nabil Hussein Jassim, a retired Iraqi army officer.

Jassim was killed last week, along with 13 other people, in a car bombing also blamed on the organisation al-Qaeda in Iraq.

In Zayouna on Wednesday, a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded six people – three police and three civilians, police said.

To the north in Mosul, 360km northwest of Baghdad, police said they detained a senior local al-Qaeda fighter in a joint operation with police from nearby Tikrit on Tuesday evening.

Brigadier Abdul Kareem al-Jubori of Nineveh province”s police said the suspect, named as Adnan Khalil al-Faraj, is believed to be an al-Qaeda in Iraq military commander for Mosul and Tikrit.

Amnesty bill

On the political front, the Iraqi government took a small step towards national reconciliation by sending a draft amnesty bill to the parliament speaker.

The bill, drafted by the Shia-dominated government, falls far short of Sunni demands, however. It covers less than a quarter of those held in Iraqi prisons, and none of those held by the American military.

Sunni parliamentarians have argued that most prisoners are charged with terrorist crimes, rendering it ineffective.

Some also fear referring the bill to parliament will actually delay prisoner releases.

Ali al-Dabbagh, the government”s spokesman, said the draft bill would exclude those imprisoned for a variety of crimes ranging from terrorism, kidnapping and rape to antiquities smuggling, adultery and homosexuality.

It also excludes senior figures of the former Baath government.

If passed in its current form, the bill could see some 5,000 prisoners released, al-Dabbagh said. The Iraqi government has about 20,000 people in custody, while the US military holds about 25,000.

Dulaimi case

In other news, Iraqi media reported that a number of politicians would ask parliament to strip Adnan al-Dulaimi, the head of a mainly Sunni party, of his parliamentary immunity.

A joint force of the Iraqi police and multinational forces recently found a cache of weapons in al-Dulaimi”s house and investigations reportedly revealed the involvement of al-Dulaimi”s son in the killings of civilians.

After the incident, Iraqi authorities transferred al-Dulaimi from his residence to the Rashid Hotel inside Baghdad”s Green Zone to keep him under monitoring.

Al-Dulaimi”s house was similarly raided last year and weapons were found inside it, but the matter was later settled after a meeting between him and US officials.