Mar 10, 3:21 PM EST
*18 Killed in Baghdad Suicide Bombing*
By SAMEER N. YACOUB
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD (AP) -- A suicide car bomb struck Baghdad's Shiite militia
stronghold Saturday, killing at least 18 people as international envoys
met in the Iraqi capital to talk about stabilizing the
The blast hit an Iraqi patrol in Sadr City at midday, scattering burning
debris across a small bridge, witnesses said.
An Associated Press reporter traveling with U.S. troops nearby said the
explosion showered shrapnel across a joint U.S.-Iraq security station
300 yards away. The partially shattered windshield of a car landed at
the gates of the compound.
Police said at least 18 people were killed and 48 wounded.
Home to about 2.5 million of Baghdad's poorest residents, Sadr City is
the base for fighters allied to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
His militia, the Mahdi Army, has laid low in recent weeks during a
U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown under pressure from Iraqi Prime Minister
Hours earlier, Iraqi special forces teams backed by U.S. soldiers
detained six suspects believed to be a rogue members of the Mahdi Army,
the U.S. military said in a statement.
The suspects were accused of coordinating and carrying out kidnappings
and murders of Iraqi civilians, the statement said.
In central Baghdad, two mortars fell near Iraq's Foreign Ministry, where
envoys gathered for an international conference on how to quell the
violence and bolster Iraq's government. There were no reports of
injuries, but smoke was visible from the meeting area.
Meanwhile, Iraqi officials said they were holding a top al-Qaida
official, but not the terror mastermind Abu Omar al-Baghdadi who they
believed was captured a day earlier.
"After preliminary investigations, it was proven that the arrested
al-Qaida person is not Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, but, in fact, another
important al-Qaida official," said Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Mousawi, an
Iraqi military spokesman.
"Interrogations and investigations are still under way to get more
information," he said.
Al-Mousawi declined to give the suspect's name on Saturday.
It was al-Mousawi who announced late Friday that al-Baghdadi had been
captured. A senior adviser to the prime minister also had told the AP
that al-Baghdadi had been taken into custody. The adviser spoke on
condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the
Al-Mousawi said the suspect at first identified himself as al-Baghdadi,
and that his identity was corroborated by another man captured with him.
The reported arrest followed rumors this week that al-Baghdadi's brother
had been arrested in a raid near Tikrit.
Almost nothing is known of al-Baghdadi, including his real name and what
he looks like; his capture would be difficult for officials to verify.
He is believed to lead the shadowy Islamic State of Iraq, an
al-Qaida-inspired group that challenged the authority of Iraq's elected
government. He has also signed militant messages posted online, as the
leader of the Mujahedeen Shura Council - an umbrella group that includes
al-Qaida in Iraq.
An alleged member of the Islamic State of Iraq was among 27 suspects
detained in U.S. raids across Iraq overnight, the U.S. military said.
One suspect was killed and 18 were detained in Taji, an area on the
northern outskirts of Baghdad, the military said in a statement.
Eight suspects were captured in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad,
and one was detained in Ramadi,115 kilometers 70 miles west of Baghdad,
Also Saturday, the U.S. military said it was investigating the shooting
of three Iraqis in Baghdad's Azamiyah neighborhood. American
paratroopers fired on a vehicle when it failed to respond to warning
signals, the military said in a statement. Three Iraqis were killed and
three others were wounded in Friday's incident, it said.
In other violence, a roadside bomb killed three Iraqi policemen and
wounded another Saturday in central Ramadi, police said.
Gunmen opened fire Saturday on Shiite pilgrims in Latifiyah, about 20
miles south of Baghdad, police said. One person was killed and three
were wounded. Later, two more pilgrims were killed in shootings in
eastern Baghdad, police said.
The pilgrims were on their way back from a Shiite shrine in Karbala,
where millions of faithful were performing rites this weekend for
Arbaeen, a holiday that marks the end of a 40-day mourning period after
the death anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson.
Some 340 people, mostly Shiite pilgrims en route to Karbala, were killed
in sectarian attacks this past week.
Associated Press reporter Ryan Lenz traveling with U.S. forces in
Baghdad contributed to this report.