Buratha Mosque Bombed Again, Killing 10
A major Shiite mosque in Baghdad was bombed this morning, killing ten and injuring 20, in the midst of a massive security sweep that has killed dozens of insurgents and apprehended several of their leaders.
A suicide bomber struck a Shiite mosque during Friday prayers in Baghdad, killing at least 10 people and wounding 20, police said, as violence persisted in the capital despite a massive security operation aimed at restoring order. Police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said the attacker blew himself up at the Buratha mosque in northern Baghdad. Mahmoud said the bomber was wearing an explosive belt, but Jalal Eddin al-Sagheer, the preacher at the mosque and one of the country’s leading politicians, however, said the explosives were inside a worshipper’s shoes. He said guards first arrested a suspected attacker after discovering explosives as they were searching shoes left outside the mosque. The bomber blew himself up when confronted by the guards as they began searching worshippers with shoes beside them inside the mosque, al-Sagheer said.
The streets of Baghdad were largely absent of cars due to a four-hour driving ban implemented to prevent violence during traditional Islamic prayers held every Friday. Iraqi authorities also launched a massive security operation on Wednesday that included 75,000 troops fanning out on the streets of Baghdad, an extended curfew — from 8.30 p.m. until dawn — and a weapons ban.
It was the second time the mosque has been hit in just over two months. The Buratha mosque also was attacked during Friday prayers on April 7, when four suicide bombers, including a woman, set off their explosives, killing at least 85 worshippers as they left the mosque after the main weekly religious service.
The violence came a day after Iraqi National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie announced that valuable information had been seized in raids and declared that al-Zarqawi’s death was “the beginning of the end of al-Qaida in Iraq.”
The U.S. military also said American and Iraqi forces have killed 104 insurgents in 452 raids nationwide since the death of the terror leader. Military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said sweeps across Iraq since al-Zarqawi’s death led to 28 significant arms caches. He said the raids included 255 joint operations and 143 by Iraqi forces alone.
A key terror leader linked to the deaths of at least seven coalition soldiers in roadside bombs also was captured in Karbala, the U.S. military said Friday. The military said Iraqi soldiers, assisted by coalition advisers, conducted an early morning ground assault raid Thursday in the Shiite holy city and captured “a high-ranking terrorist network commander without firing a shot.” The suspect was identified by the military as Sheik Aqeel. “Aqeel commands a Karbala terrorist network and is wanted for assassinating Iraqi citizens and planning and ordering attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces,” the military said in a statement.
The security forces also captured another terrorist during in Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad, and seized a substantial weapons cache, the military said, adding that no Iraqi or coalition forces were killed or wounded during the operation.
These parallel events make for a bizarre juxtaposition. A lone terrorist can inflict substantial damage and get top billing in the news while what appears to be a tremendously successful crackdown on the guerrilla infrastructure barely makes a ripple. As always, the question is whether the supply of young men willing to die for a misguided vision of Islam is endless. So far, it has seemed so.