Ex-in­sur­gents tar­geted in Iraq

More than 40 killed by sui­cide bombers while wait­ing for pay­checks

Austin American-Statesman - - MONDAYBRIEFING - By Tim Arango

BAGHDAD — In the dead­li­est of a re­cent string of attacks against for­mer in­sur­gents who switched sides to fight along­side Amer­i­can forces, more than 40 peo­ple were killed by a sui­cide bomber Sun­day morn­ing as they lined up out­side an Iraqi army base to re­ceive their pay­checks.

The bomber struck on the first day of the work­week in Rad­waniya, a largely Sunni neigh­bor­hood south­west of cen­tral Baghdad. An of­fi­cial at the Min­istry of the In­te­rior said at least 43 peo­ple were killed and 40 were wounded. The dead were mainly mem­bers of the Awakening move­ment, the or­ga­ni­za­tion made up mostly of Sunni for­mer in­sur­gents, but which also in­cluded Iraqi sol­diers.

Hours later, an­other at­tack aimed at Awakening mem­bers killed four of them in Al Qaim, a city in An­bar Prov­ince in western Iraq.

The vi­o­lence comes af­ter a se­ries of as­sas­si­na­tions and attacks in re­cent months against the for­mer in­sur­gents, adding new ur­gency to ques­tions about how long they will re­main loyal to a govern­ment they blame for not pro­tect­ing them. The con­cern, and an ap­par­ent goal of the at­tack­ers, is that nearly 90,000 armed for­mer mil­i­tants could hit the street again as the United States is sharply re­duc­ing the num­ber of troops in Iraq.

“I’m blam­ing the se­cu­rity forces,” said Sheik Ali Hatem al-Suleiman, an Awakening leader in An­bar Prov­ince. “From the be­gin­ning, I said that politi­cians are re­spon­si­ble be­cause they don’t care about the Awakening as a na­tional project, and the evils of the se­cu­rity vi­o­la­tions re­flect neg­a­tively on the of­fi­cials.”

For the Awakening mem­bers, whose de­ci­sion to switch loy­al­ties was piv­otal in quelling the apoc­a­lyp­tic vi­o­lence of 2006 and 2007, the attacks top a list of griev­ances, which in­cludes not re­ceiv­ing the jobs they say they were promised for turn­ing against the in­sur­gency.

Many Awakening lead­ers blame the Iraqi se­cu­rity forces for not pro­tect­ing them from re­venge killings by mil­i­tants loyal to al Qaeda in Iraq, the main in­sur­gent group, or say the se­cu­rity forces them­selves have been in­fil­trated by mem­bers still loyal to the in­sur­gency.

The po­lice chief in An­bar, the once-restive re­gion where the Awakening be­gan, said the attacks were re­venge by al Qaeda in Iraq.

“We ac­cuse al Qaeda with im­ple­ment­ing such attacks be­cause they want to prove their ex­is­tence in the prov­ince, but we will not al­low them,” Maj. Gen. Baha al-Qaisi said.

But Awakening lead­ers were doubt­ful that the govern­ment could or would pro­tect them. Sheik Ahmed Abu Risha, an Awakening leader in An­bar, said, “We are go­ing to send our forces to pro­tect all the Awakening head­quar­ters in An­bar be­cause the govern­ment is not able to pro­vide se­cu­rity for them.”

Khalid Mo­hammed AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

An in­jured Iraqi sol­dier is taken home af­ter a sui­cide at­tack Sun­day in Rad­waniya, south­west of Baghdad. Twin sui­cide bomb­ings killed at least 43 peo­ple, in­clud­ing for­mer in­sur­gents who are part of the Awakening move­ment.

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