Iraqi rebels hit back after post-election lull03/02/2005 - 11:03:31
Insurgents struck back after a post-election lull today, ambushing a minibus carrying new Iraqi army recruits, firing on Iraqis heading for work at a US base and gunning down an Iraqi soldier in the capital.
Two US Marines were also killed in action.
A total of 19 people, including the Marines, died in insurgent-related incidents starting last night, according to US and Iraqi reports.
Insurgents had eased up on attacks following Sunday’s elections, when American and Iraqi forces imposed sweeping security measures to protect the voters.
In the deadliest incident, rebels stopped the minibus south of Kirkuk, ordered army recruits off the vehicle and gunned down 12 of them, said Major General Anwar Mohammed Amin. Two of the soldiers were allowed to go free and ordered to warn others against joining Iraq’s US-backed security forces, he said.
The assailants identified themselves as members of Takfir wa Hijra, an Islamic group that emerged in the 1960s in Egypt, rejecting society as corrupt and seeking to establish a utopian Islamic community.
Elsewhere, gunmen fired on a vehicle carrying Iraqi contractors to jobs at a US military base in Baqouba north of the capital today, killing two people, officials said.
Two civilians were killed and six injured last night when insurgents fired mortar shells at a US base in Tal Afar, 30 miles west of Mosul.
An Iraqi soldier was killed today as assailants opened fire as he was leaving his home in Baghdad, officials said. The governor of Anbar province, a rebel stronghold west of the capital, escaped assassination when a roadside bomb exploded near his car in Ramadi.
Governor Qaoud al-Namrawi escaped injury but a woman was injured when his guards opened fire.
Both Marines were killed in clashes yesterday in Anbar province, which includes such restive cities and towns as Ramadi, Fallujah and Qaim.
The upsurge in violence occurred shortly after interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi declared that the success of Iraq’s elections had dealt a major blow to the insurgency and predicted victory over the rebels within months.
Allawi cited a drop in violence immediately after Sunday’s voting, although he said it was too early to tell if a trend had begun.
“They might be reorganising themselves and changing their plans,” Allawi said. “The coming days and weeks will show whether this trend will continue ... But the final outcome will be failure. They will continue for months but this will end.”
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