Bounty On Iraq Leaders' Heads

Iraqi men stand between houses they say were destroyed by an insurgent bomb, before U.S. and Iraqi forces began Operation Restoring Rights in Tal Afar, Iraq, 420 kilometers (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Monday, Sept. 12, 2005. U.S. and Iraqi troops conducted house-to-house searches and battered down stone walls in the narrow, winding streets of the old city. AP

In a new Web posting, an Islamic insurgent group offered to pay bounties for the deaths of Iraq's Shiite prime minister and other top officials in retaliation for an offensive against a militant stronghold in northern Iraq.

The Islamic Army in Iraq, which has previously claimed responsibility for kidnapping and killings of foreigners, called on its "holy fighters to strike the infidels with an iron fist."

The statement offered $100,000 for killing Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari; $50,000 for Interior Minister Bayan Jabr; and $30,000 for Defense Minister Sadoun al-Dulaimi.

"What the American forces and Iraq's traitors, the tails of the infidels, did in Tal Afar is a genocide to the Sunni people in this great city," the statement said.

A U.S. and Iraqi military offensive against Tal Afar resulted in the deaths of 157 insurgents and the capture of 291 suspects. Brig. Gen. Abdul Aziz Mohammed-Jassim, spokesman for the Iraqi army in Tal Afar, said at least six Iraqi soldiers and six civilians were killed in the operation.

It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the statement, which surfaced on an Islamic Web site that often posts extremists' materials.

In other developments:

  • A huge car bomb exploded outside a popular restaurant in Baghdad's upscale Mansour neighborhood Monday night, witnesses said. Hospital officials reported at least one person was killed and 17 were wounded. A doctor at Yarmouk Hospital said most of the victims were women.

  • Police in eastern Baghdad reported finding the bodies of 10 unidentified men, their hands tied and shot to death.

  • Gunmen shot and killed a bodyguard of the mayor of Mahmoudiya, a town about 20 miles south of Baghdad. The mayor was unhurt, police said.

  • Two Kurdish security guards died and three were wounded when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in the northern town of Mosul. On the city's outskirts, police said they found two badly burned dead bodies.

  • In Baghdad's southern neighborhood of Dora, two men were killed in separate drive-by shootings, police said.

  • In Kirkuk, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a police car and killed the two policemen inside. The city, 180 miles north of Baghdad, has been the scene of numerous such attacks.

    Al-Jaafari toured Tal Afar on Monday — ignoring an alleged al Qaeda threat to strike with chemical weapons — to congratulate Iraqi soldiers and commandoes for successfully rousting militants from the insurgent stronghold near the Syrian border, Iraqi television reported.

    The broadcast, which showed no pictures of the Iraqi leader, said he was in the region despite a previously unreported insurgent threat to unleash chemical weapons against the force of 5,000 Iraqi soldiers and commandos, backed by 3,500 troops from the U.S. 3rd Armored Cavalry regiment, who stormed into the city Saturday.
    • Joel Roberts

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