40 dead in Iraq suicide attacks
U.S. frees filmmaker held nearly 2 months without being charged
Chicago Sun-Times | July 11, 2005
By Aamer Madhani
BAGHDAD -- At least 40 people were killed and dozens wounded as militants launched a series of suicide attacks Sunday targeting Iraqi security forces, U.S. troops and civilians throughout the country.
The renewed violence ended several days of relative peace in Iraq as suicide bombers attacked targets in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul and on the Syrian border.
Also on Sunday, the U.S. military announced it had released an Iranian-American filmmaker who was detained for nearly two months without being charged.
Cyrus Kar, an Iranian-born U.S. citizen from Los Angeles and a former U.S. Navy sailor, was detained by the Iraqi Army near Balad on May 17 along with an Iranian cameraman and a taxi driver. During a search of the taxi they were traveling in, Iraqi soldiers found 35 washing machine timers, commonly used for detonating roadside bombs, according to the U.S. military.
The FBI and coalition forces investigated Kar's case. Coalition forces convened a Detainee Status Board on July 4 and determined Kar was not an enemy combatant, the military said. The Iranian cameraman also was released, but the U.S. military continues to hold the taxi driver.
"This case highlights the effectiveness of our detainee review process," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Don Alston, a coalition spokesman, in a statement. "We followed well-established procedures, and Mr. Kar has now been properly released."
Until Sunday, early July had been free of attacks resulting in mass casualties.
The most deadly attack Sunday took place at the military recruitment center in Baghdad when a man with an explosives-laden vest strapped to his body blew himself up among a crowd of recruits waiting to be allowed into the compound. The attack killed 25 and wounded 47, according to hospital officials.
A young man who had been looking to sign up as a soldier said he cheated death by minutes.
Wisam Rahim Khalaf said he was anxious about the long lines at the recruitment center that have proved to be easy targets for suicide bombers. The recruitment center at Muthana Airfield has been hit by similar attacks several times before, including an attack in February that left 21 dead.
By luck, Khalaf, 20, said he squeezed toward the front of the line and was among the first to be allowed inside. A friend from Karbala he traveled with wasn't so lucky, Khalaf said.
Two or three minutes after Khalaf was allowed into the compound, he said he heard a deafening explosion and screams from the gate.
"It was a terrible scene--smoke, dead bodies everywhere and legs, arms and flesh and blood," said Khalaf, as he shuffled from room-to-room at Yarmouk Hospital without finding his friend. "I don't know what I am going to tell his family."
A Shiite mother and seven of her children were found shot dead in their beds Sunday in Baghdad. One boy survived, police said. The distraught father, who was not at home at the time, blamed the killings on sectarian hatred, The Associated Press reported.
In the attack at the Syrian border, suicide attackers detonated two vehicles rigged as car bombs near a border crossing and killed seven customs officers. After the attacks, Iraqi authorities closed the crossing and turned back hundreds of Iraqis trying to get back into Iraq, AP reported.
In Mosul, a suicide car bomber slammed his vehicle into a convoy carrying a high-ranking police officer, Iraqi officials said. Four policemen were killed and three were wounded.
Meanwhile in the northern city of Kirkuk, four civilians were killed and 15 were wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded on a highway near a hospital, officials said.
In a separate development, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari seemed to distance himself from comments made by a government spokesman that the Egyptian government has been less then forthcoming about the activities of its chief diplomat, Ihab al-Sherif, prior to his slaying.
Laith Kuba, the government spokesman, said last week that al-Sherif might have been on his way to meet with insurgents when he was kidnapped July 2.
The diplomat's body has not been found, but Al Qaeda in Iraq later said in an Internet statement that it killed al-Sherif. Egyptian officials also said they believe he is dead.