“A U.S. military spokesman asserted that major violence is largely confined to three of the country’s 18 provinces.
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch told reporters Thursday that most Iraqi violence was focused in three central provinces, including Baghdad.
“There is not widespread violence across Iraq. There is not. Seventy-five percent of the attacks still take place in Baghdad, al-Anbar or Salaheddin (provinces). And in the other 15 provinces, they all averaged less than six attacks a day, and 12 of those provinces averaged less than two attacks a day.”
He said attacks nationwide were averaging 75 a day, a level that has been generally sustained since last August.
The three provinces he cited, however, are home to about 9 million people, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development – a third of the country’s population of 27 million.
“Fighting raged on with at least 58 people killed in execution-style slayings, bombings and gunbattles.
For the third straight day, Sunni insurgents hit a major police and jail facility – this time with a suicide car bombing that killed 25 in central Baghdad. The attacker detonated his explosives at the entrance to the Interior Ministry Major Crimes unit in the Karradah district, killing 10 civilians and 15 policemen, authorities said.
As insurgent forces raised the stakes with the attacks, the U.S. military announced late Thursday that it was in the second day of an operation with Iraqi soldiers “to disrupt anti-Iraqi forces and to find and destroy terrorist caches in the Abu Ghraib area west of Baghdad.”
The military statement said 1,400 personnel were involved in the operation – termed Northern Lights – and had captured “two persons of high-value interest and 16 suspected terrorists.” Two large weapons caches also were discovered, the military said.