- Title: IRAQ: Violence continues in Iraq; US troops step up crackdown on militants
- Date: 4th March 2007
- Summary: (BN10) BAGHDAD, IRAQ (MARCH 3, 2007) (REUTERS) SITE WHERE BOMB WENT OFF TRACES OF POLICE VEHICLE HIT BOMBS IRAQI SOLDIERS EXAMINING SITE BLOOD
- Embargoed: 19th March 2007 12:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA36RE1F2JQ8SDXX6EU5DKYSYDW
- Story Text: Saturday (March 3) was another violent day in Iraq. A roadside bomb targeting a passing patrol of Iraqi police wounded three policemen and a civilian. The attack took place in Camp Sara district in eastern Baghdad.
"A police vehicle was driving here when a sound bomb went off and when they (police) stepped out of their vehicle to see a bomb planted on the side of the road went off," said Hassan Hadi, member of Iraqi Special Forces who was securing the blast site.
In a separate attack, police said gunmen killed six Sunnis from one family, in the insurgent-stronghold town of Yusufiya, 15 km (10 miles) south of Baghdad.
Police said the Sunnis from Al-Mishahda tribe had received death threats after attending a reconciliation conference with Shi'ites in the area on Friday (March 2).
"They (gunmen) broke into their house at dawn, at approximately 0600 at dawn, killing them all. They were killed because of their father's participation in a reconciliation conference. They killed the father and three of his sons and a cousin with his son," said Ali Jiyad, a relative of the dead.
In the nearby town of Latifiya, a woman was killed and her child was wounded when the minibus they were travelling in was hit by a roadside bomb on Friday, relatives said. Two other children were also killed in the attack.
They said that the minibus was on way back to Baghdad from a visit to the holy Shi'ite city of Najaf.
Distraught relatives recovered the bodies from Al-Muhmudiya Hospital on Saturday where they were delivered earlier by police.
Latifiya is part of a dangerous cluster of towns known as the "Triangle of Death" south-west of the capital, where insurgents and bandits rule the streets, setting up impromptu checkpoints and killing Shi'ite people heading to the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala.
The area is particularly treacherous for Iraq's fledgling security forces, whom insurgents target for working with the government.
Saturday's violence comes a day after U.S. soldiers, backed by U.S. stryker vehicles, swept through Al-Kam district of the Sunni-populated neighbourhood of Adhamiya, an area often the target of mortar attacks.
The troops cordoned off the area, conducting foot patrols and entering houses to ask people of the neighbourhood of their complains and opinion on the offensive.
"We want permanent checkpoints. For example a permanent checkpoint there. An Iraqi-American checkpoint," a resident of the neighbourhood told troops who searched his house.
U.S. and Iraqi forces have deployed 90,000 troops and police in Baghdad. Around 15 joint security stations have already been opened, where American soldiers live with their Iraqi counterparts in an effort aimed at holding cleared areas.
The Baghdad crackdown aims to clear neighbourhoods of militants and weapons and then secure them in a bid to break the power of Shi'ite militias and Sunni insurgents. The offensive is seen as a last-ditch effort to halt all-out civil war between minority Sunni Arabs and politically dominant majority Shi'ites.
But military analysts say many militiamen are likely to have left Baghdad or are lying low until the operation is completed.
U.S. commanders have said past plans to stabilise Baghdad failed because the Shi'ite-led government shied away from cracking down on Shi'ite militiamen, blamed for many sectarian killings, but regarded by many Shi'ites as their best defence against Sunni Arab insurgents such as al Qaeda.
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