Iraqi Prime Minister Vows to Catch Baghdad Car Bombers
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 14, 2004 Iraq's prime minister pledged to apprehend those responsible for today's deadly Baghdad car bombing, the latest in a recent spike of terrorist violence against the interim government slated to take power June 30.
"It is an unfortunate and cowardly event," Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told reporters today in Baghdad after meeting with top Iraqi security officials. Allawi was referring to a Baghdad car bomb attack that targeted a convoy of SUVs carrying a group of coalition infrastructure repair specialists.
Allawi said five non-Iraqi civilians in the convoy were killed and three were injured in the attack. And, the prime minister noted, "a number of Iraqis have also been killed and injured." News reports say the car bombing had killed a total of eight and wounded at least 60 people.
The people in the convoy, he observed, "have been helping Iraq to rebuild its power stations and reconstruct its electricity and power generation."
The prime minister called the car bombing "a terrorist act" and vowed "to get the criminals to justice as soon as possible." Iraqi security specialists, he added, "have assured me that we will play an important role in the investigations of this crime."
Both U.S. and Iraqi officials have predicted an escalation in terrorist acts as the June 30 handover of sovereignty nears.
On June 13 one American soldier was killed and four were injured when an improvised explosive device went off outside northern Baghdad, according to a U.S. military news release. Two wounded soldiers were medically evacuated, while the others received treatment at their unit. The name of the deceased soldier is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin.
Multinational Force Iraq reported 12 Iraqis were killed including four Iraqi police -- during a June 13 bombing in eastern Baghdad. The report said 13 more people were wounded in the attack, which caused no U.S. casualties.
Terrorists killed Kamal Jarah, an Iraqi government education official during a June 13 attack. Another Iraqi government official, Deputy Foreign Minister Bassam Salih Kubba, was assassinated June 12.
Allawi assured reporters that the Iraqi government is taking steps to protect its officials, but said he could not discuss them.
As part of initiatives to effect stability across Iraq, the interim government has already addressed the issues of independent militias and unemployed military veterans. In a statement released today, Allawi expressed the Iraqi government's pleasure "with the expressions of international support for Iraq's veterans."
He noted U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546, approved June 8, calls on the international community "to respond to Iraqi requests to assist Iraqi efforts to integrate Iraqi veterans and former militia members into society."
Most veterans, the prime minister stated, "will need help in finding rewarding civilian jobs." Therefore, he continued, government-provided literacy, vocational education and job-training programs made available for veterans "should ensure that veterans are well-placed to find employment in the future."
Other Iraqi veterans programs in the works, Allawi noted, include disability services, support for widows and orphans, and a pension system.
In his statement Allawi appealed to Iraq's military veterans, declaring, "Your country needs you, whether in its security services or in other professions, as we all work together to build a free and prosperous country."
On June 7 Allawi had announced an agreement calling for most of Iraq's independent militia to disband before nationwide elections are held in early 2005. The agreement, he noted, doesn't include radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.
While some former militia members may choose to join the new Iraqi army, police or other security services, Allawi noted June 7 that others who elect to return to civilian life "will receive valuable job training and other benefits."