Najaf quiet

violence flares elsewhere

Most of deadly activity in Iraq's Sunni Triangle

August 29, 2004|By Alissa J. Rubin | Alissa J. Rubin,LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq - In the aftermath of the three-week battle for Najaf, interim Iraqi government officials yesterday inspected the extensive damage and pledged to undertake major reconstruction efforts. But though the holy city was quiet, violence flared elsewhere in Iraq.

Much of the deadly activity was in the so-called Sunni Triangle region, which had been relatively calm during the conflict in Najaf. There was also violence in anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's stronghold in Baghdad's Sadr City slum.

In Baqubah, a city northwest of Baghdad, militants in two minibuses ambushed a convoy of three police vehicles on patrol, killing five policemen and injuring five other officers and two civilians.

There was continued U.S. bombing in Fallujah, where, despite a requirement that Marines stay outside the city limits, there have been frequent long-distance exchanges of gunfire between U.S. troops and insurgents. American fighter planes bombed targets in the city last night, the second time in 24 hours.

American military sources said their aim was to destroy houses used by anti-American insurgents. In several previous air attacks, Fallujah hospital officials reported that women and children had been injured.

Fallujah officials announced yesterday that they had met with interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to discuss the continuing bombing runs. Kalid Jumailly, a prominent Sunni sheik who led the delegation, said they had agreed not to attack U.S. military convoys on the highway east of the city.

In exchange, Allawi promised that he would ask the U.S. forces to stop the almost daily air attacks on Fallujah and that the Marines move their checkpoint on the eastern side of the city, which many in town view as too close to the downtown area.

In Baghdad, there was fighting in the sprawling Sadr City slum, and a mortar round exploded in a crowded neighborhood on the east side of the city. Five people were killed and several wounded in the incidents.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi militant group said it had kidnapped two French journalists, reported Al-Jazeera news channel. The group demanded that the French government lift a ban on Muslim headscarves in schools.

The station, quoting unidentified sources, said the group, calling itself the Islamic Army of Iraq, is the same one that claimed responsibility for the execution two days ago of Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni.

A brief video of the French journalists, identified as George Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot, was broadcast yesterday. The two journalists were reported missing the same day that Baldoni disappeared.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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