BAGHDAD, Iraq - Bombers and
gunmen killed at least 41 people and wounded dozens across Iraq on Monday, while
parliament leaders again put off debate on legislation that some Iraqis fear
could threaten the country's unity and bring even more violence.
The U.S. military relinquished control of a second Iraqi army division as
Iraqi officials prepared to further tighten security ahead of the Muslim holy
month of Ramadan, when insurgent attacks tend to spike.
In a positive development for Iraq's leaders, predominantly Sunni Arab tribes
in a volatile western province have joined to fight insurgents in the region and
want the government and the U.S.-led coalition to supply them with weapons, a
tribal leader said.
Tribal leaders and clerics in Ramadi, capital of violent Anbar province, met
last week and set up a force of about 20,000 men "ready to purge the city of
these infidels," Sheik Fassal al-Guood, a tribal leader from Ramadi, told The
"People are fed up with the acts of those criminals who take Islam as a cover
for their crimes," he said. "The situation in the province is unbearable, the
city is abandoned, most of the families have fled the city and all services are
An indication of the situation came Monday when two suicide car bombers
attacked a police station in Ramadi, killing at least two police officers and
wounding 26 people, the Interior Ministry and U.S. military said. Al-Arabiya and
al-Jazeera television put the death toll much higher, saying 13 people were
A suicide bomber also struck in Tal Afar, a city 260 miles northwest of
Baghdad that has seen much insurgent activity in the past, killing at least 20
people and wounding 17. Bombings and shootings in and around Baqouba, 35 miles
northeast of the capital, killed 12 people.
At least six more people died in other incidents around Iraq, and authorities
found at least five bodies, including two women, that probably were victims of
the sectarian reprisal killings being waged between Shiite and Sunni Arabs.
In Baghdad, political leaders from Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni Arab groups met
to discuss the federalism bill submitted to parliament this month by the largest
Shiite bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance. They canceled a formal parliament debate
scheduled for Tuesday.
The head of the largest Sunni Arab alliance, Adnan al-Dulaimi, said the
faction leaders would meet again to discuss the issue Tuesday, but said the bill
would not be debated until a later as yet unspecified date.
The legislation calls for setting up a system to allow creation of autonomous
regions in the predominantly Shiite south much like the self-ruling Kurdish
region in northern Iraq. Sunni Arabs fear that would split Iraq apart and fuel
The Kurdish north and Shiite south hold Iraq's oil fields, while the
predominantly Sunni Arab areas don't have any.
Sunni Arabs say that before autonomy legislation can be passed, parliament
must name a committee to amend the constitution - a key demand they made when
they agreed to join Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government. One of
the amendments they seek would weaken the ability to set up self-ruling cantons.
Al-Dulaimi, as well as Shiite and Kurdish lawmakers, said the Kurds had
proposed setting up the committee simultaneously with submitting the draft bill
for debate sometime in the future.
Monday's violence came as the government prepared to announce new security
measures for Baghdad ahead of Ramadan, which is expected to start Sept. 24.
Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari told the AP the measures would
be adopted two or three days before the holy month begins to "protect citizens
from terrorists attacks."
The Iraqi army's 4th Division also came under Iraqi control in central
Salahuddin province Monday, the government said.
It was the second of Iraq's 10 divisions to be put under direct Iraqi control
since Sept. 7, when coalition forces handed over control of Iraq's armed forces
command to the government.