Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ubiquitous, Omnipotent, Ethereal Al CIAda Strikes Again and Will Strike Harder! Beware the Goblin!

US warns of 'spectacular acts of terror'

AL-QAEDA in Iraq today claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that targeted US-allied sheikhs in Baghdad as the White House warned it expected more "spectacular acts of terror'' ahead.

The claim came as another sheik was gunned down in Baghdad and US forces pressed ahead with an offensive northeast of Baghdad to root out al-Qaeda militants based in and around the flashpoint town of Baquba.

An alliance of Sunni groups led by al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed in an internet statement that one of its "heroes" had penetrated security at the Al-Mansour Melia hotel yesterday and detonated himself, killing at least 12 people.

"A hero of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Othman al-Dulami, wearing an explosives belt ... infiltrated the Al-Mansour Melia hotel during a gathering of apostates and infidels," said the statement, which could not be verified.

The explosion in the hotel's crowded lobby targeted a meeting of Sunni and Shiite tribal sheiks who have allied with US forces to fight al-Qaeda, and succeeded despite the security "surge" of extra US troops to the city.

The dead included Fassal al-Gawud, an ex-governor of western Anbar province where tribal leaders have turned against Al-Qaeda, and Hussein Shaalan, a Shiite tribal chief from the central city of Diwaniyah.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned what he called an attempt to "conceal the terrorists' defeats in Anbar and Diyala provinces at the hands of our armed forces and the tribes".

Another Sunni sheik, Hamed Abed al-Shijeri, was shot dead in Baghdad today, one of several people killed in attacks across the country including three policemen and a university lecturer.

The US military also announced the loss of another soldier, killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad, taking its losses to 74 in this month alone.

In Washington, White House spokesman Tony Snow defended the US "surge" strategy of deploying tens of thousands of additional troops in Iraq and called on MPs to be patient.

"Let's make no mistake about it, it's likely to be a very difficult summer," he said. "Terrorists are going to do their very best to try to create very spectacular acts of terror."

While small by Iraqi standards in terms of the number of victims, Monday's attack on the Baghdad hotel was spectacular in its targeting and timing.

The US military's forging of alliances with Sunni sheiks is credited with a significant reduction in insurgent violence in areas under their control, particularly Anbar province.

But elsewhere in the country the bloodletting seems unstoppable, fuelled by sectarian tensions and rivalries between well-armed militias.

Original article posted here.

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