MidEastWire.com Daily Iraq Monitor
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October 24, 2005 - MidEastWire.com Daily Iraq Monitor

October 24, 2005


The Iraqi police have announced that 12 Iraqi construction laborers were killed in an attack on Al-Musayyab, [60 kilometers] south of Baghdad. The police source said that the assailants, who used two vehicles, also kidnapped the contractor whom the labourers worked for.

In Baghdad, sources in the Iraqi Interior Ministry said that unidentified gunmen today killed Muhammad Ali Nu'aymi, secretary of the director-general of Al-Mansur Municipality. Meanwhile, two Iraqi policemen were wounded in a car bombing that targeted their patrol in Al-Sha'b district.


At 0700 GMT, Al Sharqiyah carries a report saying that "the bodies of six Iraqi citizens were found in Al-Mahmudiyah in southern Baghdad. These citizens were kidnapped by men driving Interior Ministry's cars, according to eyewitnesses."

At 0900 GMT, the station reports that two Iraqi policemen were wounded in a car bomb blast against an Iraqi police patrol in Al-Sha'b area in northern Baghdad.

Another report in the same newscast says that a Kirkuk police source said that Ibrahim Zangana, Kurdistan Democratic Party official, survived an attempt on his life that morning, noting that two unidentified gunmen attacked Zangana's convoy in northern Kirkuk, wounding him, killing one of his guards, and wounding another. The report adds that a policeman was "martyred" and three others were wounded in an explosive charge blast in the eastern part of the city.


During its live coverage of the three explosions near the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, Al Jazeera Satellite Channel Television in Arabic at 1608 GMT on October 24 carries a five-minute interview with Wafiq al-Samarra'i, adviser to the Iraqi president for security affairs, in Baghdad. The interview is carried by anchorman Jamil Azar.

Asked whether these explosions targeted the Palestine Hotel in particular, or Iraqi or US military positions, Al-Samarra'i says: "There are no military positions that warrant such attacks. I believe that they [the perpetrators] targeted the hotel because it is first a huge and major building, providing that they want to destroy the building and not only killing people, and second because it hosts a number of journalists. So, I believe that there is a moral, political, and psychological objective behind these explosions."

Answering a question on the gunmen's ability to "penetrate all these security measures," Al-Samarra'i says: "This area is located on a main road, on one of the most important streets in Baghdad; namely, the Al-Sa'dun street. This means that there are tens of thousands of vehicles travel on this road every day. This also means that it is easy to come closer to the target, but not inside the target. If the attackers managed to infiltrate the target, then there is a penetration. However, when the explosion takes place in the periphery of the target, then from a technical and security point of view, this is possible, especially since it is impossible to restrict movement on the main roads and streets in Baghdad.

"Yes, the area is important, but it is not a sensitive one from a military and security viewpoint. I mean that it does not constitute a military or security target. Moreover, there are no security or military agencies, except for the guards whose responsibility is to protect this area. This also means that this is not a target that required great efforts, but a criminal operation aimed at destroying or damaging this building, and disrupting the security of the journalists and people living in the area."

Al-Jazeera TV, within its special live coverage of the Palestine Hotel blasts in Baghdad, carries at 1615 GMT on October 24 a live 10-minute telephone interview with Muhammad al-Askari, adviser to the Iraqi defence minister, in Baghdad. Al-Askari says there had been information about 20-25 car bombs that had planned to enter Baghdad on the referendum day on October 15. He says that was prevented due to the tight security measures. So, he says, attacks were expected after the referendum. He says today's blasts were meant as a message by the "extremists" that they are not interested in the diplomatic efforts exerted by Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa.

He says the state has "acute shortage" of logistical support and of the necessary equipment to uncover booby-trapped cars. Asked whether the presence of US troops in such places make them a target for attacks, Al-Askari says those hotels are "almost vacant" of US troops, and that Iraqi security forces are now responsible for the security in the area. He says that he believes that the attacks were meant for "political and propaganda purposes."

At 1625 GMT, Al-Jazeera carries a three-minute telephone interview with "journalist" Walid Khalid in Baghdad. Asked whether he has any information about how these explosions took place and about their locations, Khalid says: "According to press sources from inside the targeted area, a booby-trapped car parked on a roadside near the 14 Ramadan Mosque and the Agriculture Ministry went off during the call for the sunset prayer. Some worshippers were in the mosque to perform the prayer and then to take the fast breaking meal. The first explosion was tactical, as Iraqi security forces and US troops rushed to the scene of the incident. Thus, the Iraqi security forces left their positions at the Palestine and Ashtar Hotels.

"Afterward, a small bus driven by a suicide bomber came and attacked the main gate near the Al-Ulwiyah Club. Some gunmen clashed with the Iraqi security forces. After this second blast, which resulted in some casualties among the Iraqi police forces, a third suicide attacker came with a heavy cement mixer. He managed to create a hole in the concrete barriers. After he crossed the barrier, he detonated the car near the Palestine-Meridien Hotel, resulting in this huge damage in the lower floor. Other floors were affected, but the lower floor was badly damaged." - TV - Middle East, Middle East



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