April 14, 2007 in Nation/World

Iraqi parliament defiant after attack

Steven R. Hurst Associated Press
 

Related news

Crackdown showing mixed results

» Iraqi civilian deaths have fallen in Baghdad in the two months since the Feb. 14 start of the U.S.-led offensive, according to an Associated Press tally.

» Outside the capital, however, civilian deaths are up as Sunni and Shiite extremists shift their operations to avoid the crackdown.

» And the sweeps have taken a heavy toll on U.S. forces: Deaths among American soldiers climbed 21 percent in Baghdad compared with the previous two months.

» Since the crackdown began Feb. 14, U.S. military officials have spoken of encouraging signs that security is improving in the capital but have cautioned against drawing any firm conclusions until at least the summer.

» Figures compiled from Iraqi police reports show that 1,586 civilians were killed in Baghdad between the start of the offensive and Thursday.

» That represents a sharp drop from the 2,871 civilians who died violently in the capital during the two months that preceded the security crackdown.

» Outside the capital, 1,504 civilians were killed between Feb. 14 and Thursday, compared with 1,009 deaths during the two previous months, the figures show.

Associated Press

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s parliament met in an extraordinary session of “defiance” Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, and declared it would not bow to terrorism. A bouquet of red roses and a white lily sat in the place of Mohammed Awad, the lawmaker killed in the parliament dining hall suicide bombing claimed by al-Qaida.

Parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani opened the session and asked lawmakers to recite verses from the Quran in honor of Awad, whom he called a “hero.”

The unprecedented Friday meeting was called to send “a clear message to all the terrorists and all those who dare try to stop this (political) process, that we will sacrifice in order for it to continue,” said al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Muslim.

“We feel today that we are stronger than yesterday,” he said. “The parliament, government and the people are all the same – they are all in the same ship which, if it sinks, will make everyone sink.”

An al-Qaida-led amalgam of Sunni insurgents claimed one of its “knights” carried out Thursday’s suicide bombing in Baghdad’s Green Zone and warned the “monkeys in parliament” to brace for more attacks. The U.S. military revised the death toll sharply downward, saying one civilian was killed. Late into Thursday the military had said eight people were killed and 23 wounded.

While the attack was widely believed to have been an al-Qaida mission, investigators said Friday they were focusing on security guards inside and outside the parliament building.

Iraq’s Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry, which runs the police and national paramilitary force, on Friday took over security for parliament.

The U.S. military on Friday announced that three U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi translators were killed in two attacks south of Baghdad. Eight soldiers were wounded.

In the worst of the two attacks, two soldiers were killed and seven wounded in an attack on their base south of the capital Thursday. The two Iraqi interpreters also died.

In an attack Friday, the military said, one soldier was killed and one wounded in a roadside bombing, also south of Baghdad.

Twenty people were killed or found dead across Iraq on Friday, with just five victims of sectarian assassinations found in the capital. That was the second-lowest daily toll since the security operation began in Baghdad on Feb. 14.

But Thursday’s bombing in the heart of Baghdad’s most secure region, coupled with the stunning destruction of one of Baghdad’s Tigris River bridges, was a heavy blow to the Bush administration’s plan to put an additional 30,000 American forces in Iraq by summer.

“It is clear we still have a long way to go to provide stability and security to Iraq,” said Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the deputy U.S. commander in Iraq. “Frankly, yesterday was a bad day, a very bad day. But we’re going to come back from that.”

Regardless of the security breach, Odierno said, U.S. forces did not intend to assume responsibility for parliament security.

© Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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