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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Iraq suicide bombings kill 11, top Zarqawi aide captured. 24/10/2004. ABC News Online

Iraq suicide bombings kill 11, top Zarqawi aide captured
Twin suicide car bombs killed 10 Iraqi police and guards today, as US troops captured a top aide to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Islamic militant behind a wave of attacks and kidnappings.

In the latest hostage crisis, British-Iraqi aid director Margaret Hassan made a desperate plea to the British government to save her life by pulling its troops out of Iraq after she was abducted on Tuesday in Baghdad.

Foreign civilians and soldiers as well as Iraq's fledgling security forces are prime targets in the insurgency, which is bent on destroying Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's US-backed government and ridding the country of US-led troops.

Highlighting the resolve of the insurgents, a suicide car bomb ripped through a police academy in Baghdadi, a town about 200 kilometres west of the capital as policemen gathered for a training session.

"A suicide bomber drove into the academy where police were training and blew himself up," said Mujtaba Ahmed al-Hiti, police chief in the neighbouring town of Hit.

"The attack left 10 people dead and 40 wounded."

In a further blow to US and Iraqi attempts to restore order, a second suicide bomber struck about half an hour later in a farming town north of Baghdad.

"A car bomb, driven by a suicide driver, exploded at 8:00am local time at an Iraqi national guard check point in Ishaki - 20 kilometres south of Samarra - killing two and wounding six, all of them guardsmen," said Hamid Ahmad from the police in neighbouring Balad.

Iraq's National Security Advisor Kassem Daoud later confirmed the attack during a Baghdad press conference but revised the toll to one killed and two wounded.

Ishaki is close to the restive city of Samarra, which US and Iraqi troops stormed at the start of the month in the first major push to retake a Sunni rebel bastion ahead of national elections planned for January.

In the latest operation into insurgent hotspots, US and Iraqi troops have set their sights on Fallujah, believed to be a base for Zarqawi and his followers and the centre of insurgent activity in Iraq.

Iraq suicide bombings kill 11, top Zarqawi aide captured. 24/10/2004. ABC News Online

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