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Iraq extends state of emergency for 30 days

Parliament voted unanimously Tuesday to extend Iraq's state of emergency for 30 more days, and suspected Sunni insurgents set off bombs that killed eight people and wounded 40 across the country.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Parliament voted unanimously Tuesday to extend Iraq’s state of emergency for 30 more days, and suspected Sunni insurgents set off bombs that killed eight people and wounded 40 across the country.

Lawmakers decided to continue the state of emergency that allows for a nighttime curfew and gives the government extra powers to make arrests without warrants and launch police and military operations.

The measures, in place everywhere except for the northern autonomous Kurdish region, have been renewed every month since they were first authorized in November 2004.

Sectarian violence has worsened, and two car bombs exploded Tuesday near a hospital morgue in Baghdad, killing three civilians and one policeman and wounding 19 civilians, a police officer said on condition of anonymity to protect his security. Insurgents kill many of the Iraqi security forces working with the U.S.-led coalition.

In other fighting, U.S. troops fought with suspected insurgents in Ramadi, and the battle left six Iraqis dead, including five females ranging in age from an infant to teenagers, the U.S. military said.

The fighting began after a coalition patrol discovered a roadside bomb in the Hamaniyah section of Ramadi, and two men fled to a house, where they took up positions on the roof, the military said.

Meanwhile, videotape footage obtained by AP Television News appears to show the wreckage of a U.S. single-seat F-16CG jet in the farm field where it crashed Monday and the remains of an American serviceman with a tangled parachute nearby.

U.S. forces investigating the crash said that insurgents had reached the site before American forces could and the pilot is missing. Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman, said there was no indication the plane, deployed to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad Air Base in Iraq, was shot down.

Al-Jazeera satellite television showed similar pictures Monday, but declined to include the scenes of the dead pilot, saying they were too graphic to air.

In Diyala province north of the capital, where heavy fighting between police and Sunni insurgents has raged for several days, a roadside bomb exploded in the town of Baladrooz, killing three civilians and wounding four, a police officer said. He also spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern for his security.

Governor survives assassination attempt
North of Diyala, an Iraqi governor survived an assassination attempt when a suicide bomber blew himself up near the official’s convoy. The attacker with an explosive belt hidden beneath his clothing approached the convoy at 9:35 a.m. as it was driving slowly through the center of Kirkuk near the city’s main public hospital, said police Brig. Sarhat Qadir. The man tried to enter the governor’s car, but when the door was locked he blew himself up, Qadir said.

Gov. Abdul Rahman Mustafa and his bodyguards were not harmed, but the powerful blast hit civilians standing nearby, killing one of them and wounding 17, the officer said.

Kirkuk’s population is a mix of Kurds, Arabs and ethnic Turkmen. Hundreds have been killed in sectarian and ethnic fighting in the past three years. The city is 180 miles north of Baghdad.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will meet with President Bush in Jordan this week to discuss the sectarian violence that threatens to push Iraq into a full-scale civil war, including attacks by suspected Sunni-Arab insurgents that killed more than 200 people last week in Baghdad’s Sadr City slum.

Caldwell, the U.S. military spokesman, said “elevated levels of violence as a result of” the Sadr City attacks were expected over the next several weeks.

As he spoke in the heavily fortified Green Zone, anger remained strong in Sadr City, a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a key backer of al-Maliki.

Report: Iran providing army training
The New York Times on Monday quoted a senior U.S. intelligence official who said the Iranian-backed Hezbollah had been providing training for the Mahdi Army. The anonymous official told the Times that 1,000 to 2,000 Shiite fighters had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon and in Iran.

Hussein Rahhal, Hezbollah’s media chief, called the report baseless, saying it was part of a U.S. intelligence campaign circulated by the American media to vilify the guerrilla group.

More than 2,000 Sadrists marched through the slum to mark the seventh anniversary of the assassination of the cleric’s father, Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, a revered Shiite religious leader.

“Thursday’s attack was another attempt by the terrorists who killed Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr to destroy Sadr City and his followers,” said Hazim al-Araji, an aide to Muqtada al-Sadr.