Baghdad Governor Assassinated
Baghdad Governor Assassinated (Reuters)
Gunmen have killed Baghdad’s governor in Iraq’s highest-profile assassination in eight months and a suicide bomber has killed 10 people near the Green Zone in an escalating campaign to wreck a January 30 election.
The targeting of Governor Ali al-Haidri showed insurgents’ power to strike at the heart of Iraq’s governing class, raising fresh doubts whether Iraqi security forces can protect politicians and voters as the national ballot draws near.
The assassination on Tuesday took place just hours after a suicide bomber rammed a fuel truck into a checkpoint near Baghdad’s Green Zone, a sprawling complex housing the Iraqi government and the U.S. and British embassies. It created a giant fireball that rocked the capital, police and hospital sources said.
The bombing, which also wounded 58 people, brought fresh scenes of bloodshed and destruction to Baghdad a day after 17 security men were killed in a string of ambushes and explosions across the country.
The attacks were the latest in a drive by Sunni insurgents trying to force out U.S.-led forces, cripple the American-backed interim government and scare voters away from the polls. Iraqi leaders say guerrillas also want to provoke sectarian civil war.
Details of Haidri’s death remained sketchy. He was the most senior Iraqi official to be assassinated in Baghdad since the head of the Governing Council was killed by a suicide bomb in May last year.
Other wire dispatches, as presented in the Washington Post, have some of the early details:
Al-Haidari’s three-vehicle convoy was passing through Baghdad’s northern neighborhood of Hurriyah when gunmen opened fire, said the chief of his security detail, who asked only to be identified as Maj. Mazen.
“The governor was in his armored BMW and we were in two other cars,” said Maj. Mazen, reached on al-Haidari’s cell phone. “Our convoy was moving in Hurriyah and they came from different directions and opened fire at us.”
The complete story is surely forthcoming, as are discussions of the political implications. But it’s obviously (and painfully) clear that this development is tragic.