Car bomb near Iraqi military base kills 33

Updated 07 November 2012
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Car bomb near Iraqi military base kills 33

BAGHDAD: A suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives detonated the vehicle near an Iraqi military base as soldiers changed shifts north of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 33 people and wounding 56, according to authorities.
The blast struck around midday as troops were leaving the base in Taji, 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the capital, police said. Twenty-two soldiers were among the dead, and several vehicles were damaged, they said.
The casualty toll was high because the attacker blew up the car while large numbers of soldiers were walking to and from a parking area for waiting minibuses that take them to work, officials said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though suicide car bombings are a favorite tactic of Sunni militant groups such as Al-Qaeda.
Insurgents frequently target members of the country’s security forces in an effort to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government. Although violence has ebbed in Iraq since the height of the insurgency, attacks still occur frequently.
Officials said many of the wounded were soldiers. They warned the death toll could rise further because several of the injuries were serious.
Tensions at the scene remained high hours after the blast. Police and soldiers cordoned off the area and prevented journalists from approaching. Two cameras were damaged when a scuffle broke out between security forces and journalists who were trying to reach the attack site, a police official said.
Hospital officials confirmed the casualties. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
The attack was the deadliest in Iraq in more than a week. On Oct. 27, insurgents unleashed a string of bombings and other attacks around the country that left at least 40 people dead.
It was the second bombing in Taji in less than 24 hours. On Monday, police said a car bomb struck an army patrol not far from the site of Tuesday’s blast, wounding eight people. Another bombing Monday near an outdoor market in a Shiite neighborhood on Baghdad’s outskirts killed four.
Also Tuesday, Iraq’s Cabinet voted to do away with a major social safety net program and instead provide cash payments directly to citizens, government spokesman Ali Al-Dabbagh said.
The reform would bring an end to food ration cards that many Iraqis use to buy basic, highly subsidized foodstuffs such as flour and rice. Instead, the government plans to begin paying out 15,000 dinars ($12.50) monthly and will set the price of flour starting in March.
In Iraq’s north, the president of the country’s self-ruled Kurdish region urged Kurds in neighboring Syria to stay united and not let political differences deteriorate into violence.
The comments by Massoud Barzani, posted Monday evening on the regional government’s website, point to growing concern in Iraq that infighting among Syrian Kurds could complicate that country’s civil war and risk destabilizing Iraq’s Kurdish region. Syria’s Kurds have been solidifying control over territory where they live during the tumult of the conflict.
Over the summer, Barzani brokered an agreement between the rival Kurdish Democratic Union Party and the Kurdish National Council, the main Kurdish umbrella group, to jointly control Kurd-populated areas in Syria.


Lebanese election campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

Updated 25 April 2018
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Lebanese election campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

  • Lebanon's independent Sabaa party talks about exploitation of positions and money.
  • Several young men from the Sabaa party demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior.

BEIRUT: Sectarian and partisan polarization resulting from fierce competition for parliamentary seats in Lebanon has led to the first armed clash between two rival Druze parties.
Machine guns were used in the clash between the Progressive Socialist Party, led by MP Walid Jumblatt, and the Lebanese Democratic Party, led by Talal Arslan, which took place on Sunday evening in the city of Choueifat, about 5 km south of Beirut.
The two parties’ leaders acted quickly to calm their supporters.
“When politicians plant seeds of hatred and grudges among people, they commit a crime against citizens who have been breaking bread together for centuries,” Jumblatt said in a tweet.
In a joint statement, the two parties stressed “the need to avoid any steps that could provoke anger among supporters or disturb citizens who look forward to freely exercising their right to vote in an atmosphere of democratic competition.”
The two parties, alongside other parties with supporters in Choueifat, such as Hezbollah, the Lebanese Forces, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Amal Movement, have agreed on “disowning anyone who breaches security, requesting that the security forces intensify their presence in Choueifat, identifying fixed locations until the elections are over, and restraining from carrying out provocative processions.”
Campaigning lasts 24 hours before polling and has seen various kinds of violations of the electoral law.
Several young men from the Sabaa party — a group of independent activists — demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior, carrying banners questioning the ministry’s role in election-related issues.
“Serious violations are taking place because the country is out of control; many are exploiting their positions and pouring (in) their money, and conflicts are happening at grassroots level — people are tearing down photos of candidates and individuals are fighting with one another,” said Gilbert Hobeish on behalf of the demonstrators.
He added: “This is unacceptable, and the minister of interior must take responsibility.”
Hobeish criticized the Electoral Supervisory Commission, saying “it only oversees the civil society or change candidates.”
“We reject this in toto,” he said.
Ali Al-Amin, a candidate on the Shbaana Haki electoral list (who was assaulted last Sunday by Hezbollah supporters in the town of Shaqra because he hung his photo outside his house), held a press conference in the town of Nabatiyah Al-Fawqa and renewed his protest against “the tyranny that silences voices, oppresses liberties and acts on its own will and temperaments, making us feel as if we were in the law of the jungle era.”
He said that “resistance isn’t anyone’s property nor is it one party’s ownership.”
He also called on “the free people of the south to decide which life they wanted and to which homeland and identity they belonged.”
Campaign fever is rising in Lebanon 48 hours before the elections are held for the first time for Lebanese communities in several Arab countries. These elections are to be held 11 days before parliamentary elections take place inside Lebanon.