IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Attack on Shiite target reported to kill 6

A bomb exploded outside the house of a bodyguard of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf on Wednesday, killing at least six people, an aide to Sadr said.
/ Source: Reuters

A bomb exploded outside the house of a bodyguard of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf on Wednesday, killing at least six people, an aide to Sadr said.

Sahib al-Amiree said the blast also wounded eight people. The holy Shiite city of Najaf has been relatively calm compared to central Iraq, where a Sunni Arab insurgency is raging.

Earlier, in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, a female suicide bomber blew herself up outside an army recruitment center, killing at least seven and wounding 37, police said.

Sadr, a fiery cleric who has led fighters against U.S. troops, is a popular figure in Iraq.

His supporters recently clashed with fighters of the Iranian-trained Badr Brigade movement, which is linked to one of the Shiite parties leading Iraq’s U.S.-backed government.

In the Tal Afar suicide attack, the bomber, wearing men's clothing as a disguise, detonated her hidden explosives while standing in line with job applicants at the first of three checkpoints outside the center, said Maj. Jamil Mohammed Sadr, the Iraqi army commander based there.

The recruitment center, housed in a former U.S. military base, had only opened on Wednesday after a joint Iraqi-U.S. military operation which U.S. forces said had effectively rid Tal Afar of what they called "terrorists and foreign fighters."

"A suicide bomber blew herself up in front of the recruitment center. This center was supposed to be open today for volunteers," Iraqi Gen. Nejam Abdullah said.

U.S.: Al-Qaida in Iraq No. 2 killed
The bombing came a day after the U.S. military said it had killed the man it called the number two figure in al-Qaida in Iraq.

Abu Azzam was deputy to the organization's leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq's most wanted man, the U.S. military said, although al-Qaida ridiculed this claim in an internet statement. Abu Azzam was killed on Sunday.

The American military called his death a serious blow to the militant group at the heart of Iraq's insurgency. But suicide bombings have continued since his death.

Wednesday's attack mirrored a suicide bombing of a recruitment center in Baquba, 40 miles north of Baghdad, on Tuesday. At least 10 died in that blast, with around 30 wounded.

Iraqi and U.S. troops recently ended a joint military operation in Tal Afar, which they say has long been a stronghold of insurgents. The U.S. military says during the operation it killed or captured over 500 people whom it calls "terrorists or foreign fighters."

They hailed the full-scale assault on the town as a success and said they had brought Tal Afar back under their control.

But previous military operations against insurgency strongholds have not led to peace.

Escalating violence
Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish dominated government is facing an insurgency from the country's Sunni Arab minority, and violence has escalated in the run-up to an Oct. 15 referendum on a contentious new constitution for the post-Saddam Hussein era.

Sunnis have dominated Iraq for decades, under Saddam and before, but their influence has all but disappeared since his ouster.

They fear the new constitution will formalize their reduced role by giving greater autonomy to the southern Shiites, inline with that already enjoyed by northern Kurds — including control of oil revenues, the mainstay of Iraq's battered economy.

Many Sunnis have vowed to work for the rejection of the new charter at the referendum.

Hundreds have died in bombings, suicide attacks and shootings across Iraq in recent weeks, amid fears that sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites may plunge Iraq into civil war.