BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP – Roadside bomb blasts, shootings and rocket-propelled grenade attacks killed at least 11 people north of Baghdad, including a police officer’s four children, officials said Sunday.
Insurgents fired rocket propelled grenades at the home of an Iraqi police officer in Balad Ruz, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, said a spokesman for the Iraqi police Joint Coordination Center. The officer’s children, ages 6 to 11, and their uncle were killed, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity due to fears of reprisal attacks. The officer was unharmed, but his wife was wounded.
Also Sunday, the bodies of a prominent Sunni Arab tribal leader and his son were found in a field near Hawija, 150 miles north of Baghdad, said police Capt. Farhad Talabani. Sayid Ibrahim Ali, 75, and his 28-year-old son Ayad were shot as they left a funeral Saturday, Talabani said.
Four policemen were killed and nine were wounded in a pre-dawn roadside bomb blast that targeted their patrol in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, the police center said.
Despite the violence, U.S. Brig. Gen. Don Alston said insurgent attacks nationwide fell 40 percent last week over the previous week. Attacks in Baghdad fell 80 percent for the same period, he told reporters.
Sunni leader Tariq al-Hashimi, meanwhile, warned that Sunni Arabs would reject the inclusion in Iraq’s new government of any official involved violence against Sunnis by Shiite-backed security forces.
The warning appeared to be directed at Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, whom Sunnis accuse of playing a leading role in directing Shiite forces with militia links to kill Sunni clerics and lay people.
Before joining the Cabinet in 2003, Jabr served as a senior official in the Badr Brigade militia of Iraq’s largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. He has denied any involvement in the killing of Sunnis.
Al-Hashimi, head of the Iraqi Islamic Party and a partner in the prominent Sunni Arab Iraqi Accordance Front, said Sunni politicians had no opposition to any political parties joining the government.
“But we have red lines on some figures who harmed our people and we will not allow anyone who participated in human rights violation to take any ministerial posts,” al-Hashimi said at a press conference.
His comment comes as Iraq’s dominant Shiite leaders prepare for talks with Kurdish and Sunni politicians to form a national unity government, following Friday’s release of results from Dec. 15 elections. The United States considers a unity government crucial to curbing the Sunni-led insurgency and paving the way for American forces to go home.
The major Shiite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, captured 128 of the 275 seats — not enough to rule without partners. Two Sunni coalitions won a total of 55 seats, far more than the 17 held by Sunnis in the outgoing parliament.
Sunni politicians said they would appeal results to a judicial commission, which has two weeks to rule on the challenges. The appeals are unlikely to affect the results but could delay the convening of parliament.
There was no word, meanwhile, on the fate of American journalist Jill Carroll, kidnapped in Baghdad on Jan. 7 and last seen in a video released Jan. 17. Her kidnappers threatened to kill the 28-year-old if all Iraqi female prisoners were not released within 72 hours.
Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim Ali has said six of the nine women in U.S. military custody were expected to be freed this week, but the U.S. military has not confirmed any imminent releases. Ali has said their releases were tentatively planned before the kidnappers’ ultimatum.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a U.S. Muslim advocacy group, is in Baghdad to press for Carroll’s release.
More than 240 foreigners have been taken hostage, either by insurgents or gangs, since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. At least 39 have been killed.
Meanwhile, Kurdistan’s two main political groups signed an agreement to create a unified Kurdish government, a major breakthrough after years of animosity that erupted in violence in the mid-1990s.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad praised the accord, which was signed Saturday by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and Kurdistan regional president Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.