BAGHDAD, Iraq - Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish leaders called Sunday for an end
to Iraq's sectarian conflict and vowed to track down those responsible for the
war's deadliest attack.
But as they went on national
television to try to keep Iraq from sliding into an all-out civil war, fighting
between Iraqi security forces and Sunni Arab insurgents raged for a second day
in Baqouba, the capital of Diyala province north of Baghdad.
Children watch a British armoured
vehicle and soldiers patrolling in Basra, 550 km (340 miles) south of
Baghdad, November 26, 2006. [Reuters]
By the end of the day, the province's latest casualty figures were a
microcosm of the brutality in Iraq: 17 insurgents killed, 15 detained, 20
civilians kidnapped and three bodies found. The mayor of a municipality also
narrowly escaped an assassination attempt that killed one of his guards and
During Saturday's fighting in Baqouba, police killed at least 36 insurgents
and wounded dozens after scores of militants armed with assault rifles and
rocket-propelled grenades attacked government buildings in the city center,
police said. The fighting raged for hours in the city, about 35 miles northeast
Also Saturday, a US soldier was killed and two were wounded when a roadside
bomb exploded near their vehicle in Diyala province, the military said.
Officials including Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obaidi and Gen. George
Casey, the top US commander in Iraq, decided Saturday to fire Diyala's police
commander, saying he was unable to stop infiltration of the force by Sunni
insurgents, two Iraqi officials said on condition of anonymity as is often the
case in areas subjected to widespread fighting and revenge killings.
One of the main challenges for US-led forces in recruiting and training Iraqi
military and police forces is that they are often infiltrated by insurgents who
kill and kidnap in disguise.
"We promise the great martyrs that we will chase the killers and criminals,
the terrorists, Saddamists and Takfiri (Sunni extremists) for viciously trying
to divide you," Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Sunni Parliament speaker
Mahmoud al-Mashhadani and Kurdish President Jalal Talabani said in their joint
statement on state-run TV.
In addressing "the great martyrs," they were referring to the 215 people who
died when suspected Sunni insurgents attacked Sadr City, the capital's main
Shiite district, on Thursday.