Image: Car bomb wreckage in Baghdad
Hadi Mizban  /  AP
Iraqi soldiers view the wreckage of a car bomb that detonated near a police patrol in Baghdad on Thursday.
updated 9/1/2006 7:38:42 PM ET 2006-09-01T23:38:42

Iraqi forces will expand their security operation into eastern Baghdad — including Shiite militia strongholds — the Defense Ministry said Friday, a day after a barrage of coordinated attacks across those areas killed 64 people and wounded 286.

Rescue crews pulled bodies from the rubble after Thursday night’s violence, which police said included explosives planted in apartments, car bombs and several rocket and mortar attacks on mainly Shiite neighborhoods.

The bloodshed capped a violent week that saw hundreds of Iraqis killed, despite a massive security crackdown in the capital that has targeted some of Baghdad’s most violent neighborhoods.

Authorities reported more violence Friday, with a mortar attack on an open-air market in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, that killed three people and wounded 12, an Iraqi army official said.

Gunmen also fatally shot one policeman in each of two towns outside Baghdad, while police said they found the body of a Saddam Hussein-era intelligence officer who had been kidnapped and shot.

The U.S.-led military command said it conducted an airstrike on Friday in Youssifiyah, 12 miles south of Baghdad, killing three suspected insurgents and possibly wounding bystanders.

It said two bombs were dropped by aircraft after coalition forces “conducting operations to disrupt al-Qaida in Iraq activities in the area” came under indirect mortar fire.

“Ground and aerial reports indicate bystanders may have been injured,” the coalition said in a statement, adding that an assessment was being carried out to determine whether civilians had been wounded.

Baghdad plan
Defense Ministry spokesman Muhammad Al-Askari said security forces planned to expand in a matter of days into an area of eastern Baghdad that includes the neighborhoods targeted Thursday. The move is part of “Operation Together Forward,” a security crackdown that targets the capital’s most violent districts in phases and has seen an extra 12,000 Iraqi and U.S. troops deployed in the capital.

“We have prepared everything, but we are waiting to mobilize the troops and prepare the special military units that will implement the raids,” he said.

Sadr City, a stronghold of firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, would also be included, al-Askari told The Associated Press.

The area witnessed repeated clashes in the past between U.S. troops and al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia, though American forces have rarely ventured into the area recently.

“No neighborhood is off limits,” al-Askari told the AP. “There’s not a single neighborhood that’s a red line for us. Any area that has terrorist activity, we will enter — there will be no stop sign.”

He said no special arrangements had been made to deal with a security operation into the neighborhood. Other areas include Baghdad Jadida, Habibiyah, Waziriyah and Palestine Street, which has witnessed a surge in violence recently.

The expanded security operation will begin in a week to 10 days, he said, adding that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would decide on the exact date.

Al-Askari said the first two phases of the operation, which included Sunni Arab districts, was successful.

“The terrorists will not work in these districts any more, the terrorists are moving to suburbs of Baghdad, to districts that were not included in the first and second phases, to worsen the security situation there,” he said.

Army division handover
Despite the violence, Iraqi authorities are optimistic about the handover of security control. The Iraqi Ground Forces Command took over control from the U.S.-led coalition Friday of the first of 10 Iraqi army divisions, the U.S.-led command said in a statement.

The 8th Iraqi Army Division, based in Diwaniyah, will now report directly to Iraqi authorities rather than through the coalition.

Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad, was the site of a fierce, 12-hour battle between the 8th Division and Shiite militia earlier in the week that left more than 20 soldiers and 50 militiamen dead.

Meanwhile, a bomb detonated Friday on the outskirts of Musayyib, about 40 miles south of Baghdad, damaging an oil pipeline and cutting supplies to a major electricity station.

Police said no one was injured, but electricity authorities in Babil province warned the damage would lead to longer power cuts in the cities of Karbala, Najaf, Hillah and Diwaniyah.

Iraqis have faced severe fuel shortages since Saddam Hussein’s 2003 ouster, and insurgents have frequently targeted pipelines and oil refineries.

In other violence across the country Friday, according to police:

  • The body of Kamil Shateb, a former intelligence officer during Saddam Hussein’s regime, was found in Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, a morgue official said. He had been kidnapped the day before and shot in the head.
  • Gunmen shot and killed a policeman in Numaniyah, a town near Kut, after breaking into his house Thursday night.
  • A policeman was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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