BAGHDAD - A suspected al-Qaida suicide bomber rammed a speeding gasoline
truck into an Iraqi army checkpoint outside the capital on Saturday, killing at
least 14 soldiers as militants hammered the country's shaky security forces.
The terror campaign against Iraqi
troops and police appears designed to blunt US progress in creating a stable
local force so the Americans can go home. US military officers began noticing
the new pattern of attacks last month.
Iraqi policeman lies in imam Ali hospital in the Shiite
enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, June 9, 2007. [AP]
The focus on
Iraqi forces was detailed to Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., commander of the 1st
Cavalry Division which runs the nearly four-month-old security operation in
Baghdad, during a recent visit to the capital's Karradah district.
Lt. Col. Troy D. Perry, the battalion commander in the area, told Fil there
was an increasing pattern of bombers allowing US patrols to pass hidden roadside
bombs that were then detonated a short time later as Iraqi forces drove by.
Fil and Perry speculated al-Qaida was focusing on Iraqi forces to unnerve the
soldiers and police who are working with US forces to clamp off violence in the
"Al-Qaida is the biggest problem you've got right now," Fil said in a brief
meeting with Iraqi army 1st Lt. Ziad Tariq, at an Iraqi base adjacent to the US
joint security station in Karradah late last month.
In Iraq's first confirmation of Turkey's cross-border shelling of Kurdish
regions in the north of the country, the Foreign Ministry summoned the
second-ranking Turkish diplomat to protest and demand an end to the attacks.
The shelling served to "undermine confidence between the two nations and
negatively affect their friendship," according to an account posted on the
Foreign Ministry Web site.
Turkey has massed troops along the Iraq border and there has been scattered
shelling of suspected separatist enclaves in Iraq's Kurdish-controlled regions
in the north. There were unconfirmed and conflicting reports that Turkish
soldiers had crossed the border in "hot pursuit" of Kurdish rebels late last
week. The Kurdish fighters have waged a bloody secessionist campaign in
southeastern Turkey since 1984.
Turkish politicians and members of the powerful military are debating whether
to launch a major incursion against separatist Kurds who cross into southeastern
Turkey from bases in Iraq. A Turkish push into Iraq is fraught with the danger
of igniting a wider conflict that could draw in Iraqi Kurds and the United
A Turkish Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorized to release the information, confirmed the meeting
between Iraq's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Haj Mahmoud and Turkish
charge d'affaires Ahmet Yazal, but denied it was a "protest."
In southern Iraq, an apparent rocket attack at the US-run Camp Bucca military
prison killed at least six detainees and wounded 50, the military said. No
American casualties were reported.
The US military oversees more than 20,000 inmates at Camp Bucca in southern
Iraq and Camp Cropper, near the Baghdad airport. Military officials refuse to
give a breakdown of how many prisoners are at each facility but say the majority
are at Camp Bucca.
The suicide tank truck driver killed the 14 Iraqi soldiers near the gate of
the army unit's headquarters near Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of the capital,
provincial police spokesman Capt. Muthanna Khalid said. Twenty-nine others were
Iraqi soldiers opened fire on the speeding truck but were not able to stop it
until it reached the unit headquarters and the driver detonated his explosives.
Amir al-Saadi, a 40-year-old vendor who works nearby, said the explosion
flattened the army unit's headquarters building.
"The explosion was huge and caused the building to collapse," he said.
"Police, soldiers and residents are searching for bodies and people who are
still alive but buried under the rubble."
In Baghdad, a parked car bomb struck a convoy of Iraqi police commandos,
killing one of them and a pedestrian and wounding seven other people, and gunmen
elsewhere killed one policeman and wounded another while they were on a foot