Sufi mystics killed in Iraq suicide bombing
June 03, 2005
By Sam Knight, Times Online
Ten followers of the mystic Islamic Sufi movement were killed last night in a suicide bombing in a remote village north of Baghdad.
And on Friday, four Iraqis, including an army Brigadier, are reported to have been killed as government security forces and the US military continued their operations to clear insurgents from Baghdad.
According to a US military briefing, the crowd of Sufi worshippers was attacked by a suicide car bomber in the village of Saud, near the town of Balad, about 425 miles north of Baghdad, late last night. The explosion completed a bloody day in which nearly 50 people were killed in shootings and bombings across the country.
Sufi mystics are a target of Islamic extremists, who dispute their interpretation of the Koran. Twelve people were also injured in the explosion.
Ahmed Hamid, a Sufi witness told the Associated Press: "I was among 50 people inside the tekiya (Sufi gathering place) practicing our rites when the building was hit by a big explosion. Then, there was chaos everywhere and human flesh scattered all over the place."
The bombing brought Thursday's death toll to 49, of whom more than 30 were killed in four suicide bombings in the north of Iraq. A Shia cleric was also shot in the southern city of Basra.
On Friday, gunmen killed Brigadier Sabah Qara Alton, a Turkman member of the Kirkuk City Council, after he left a mosque in the northern city. Elsewhere across the country, two Iraqis, including a child, died when their car collided with a U.S military Bradley fighting vehicle. Today's casualties bring the number of people killed, including US forces, to more than 825 since Iraq's new Shia-led government was announced on April 28.
Despite the widespread violence, the Iraqi Interior Minister, Bayan Jabr, claimed on Thursday that "Operation Lightning", the largest offensive launched by the Iraqi government since the fall of Saddam Hussein two years ago, was achieving success.
According to the Interior Minister, the operation, which involves 40,000 soldiers and police, has killed 28 militants and captured more than 700 since it was launched last week. Before the operation began, authorities controlled just eight of Baghdad's 23 entrances.
And there was optimism today for the life of Australian hostage, Douglas Wood, who was kidnapped at the end of April.
Sheik Taj El Din al-Hilaly, Australia's top cleric, who has been in Baghdad trying to secure the freedom of the 63-year-old engineer told the AP: "We hope, God willing, that within the next few hours to hear news about the hostage’s (imminent) release."
On May 1, a group calling itself the Shura Council of the Mujahedeen of Iraq issued a DVD of Mr Wood and demanded the withdrawal of Australia's 1,400 troops from Iraq.