New Protection For Baghdad: Trenches

Baghdad, IRAQ: Iraqis walk past a blood pool 14 September 2006 at the site where four people were killed and 17 others wounded when a car bomb went off in east Baghdad near the passport office. One civilian was killed and 13 more were wounded in another car bomb attack today in western Baghdad's largely Shiite neighbourhood of al-Hurriyah. AFP PHOTO/SABAH ARAR (Photo credit should read SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi security forces will dig trenches around Baghdad — a distance of about 60 miles — in an attempt to prevent insurgents and explosive-laden cars from infiltrating this city of 6 million, the Interior Ministry said Friday.

A vehicle curfew for Friday prayers managed to curb violence in Baghdad for the day, with police reporting only two shooting deaths. But another 30 bodies of torture victims turned up in the capital — including one of a man who had been dismembered and thrown into the Tigris river.

A U.S. soldier was killed when the vehicle he was traveling in was struck by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on Friday, shortly after a Marine was killed in action in Anbar province, the U.S. command said.

A surge in violence has seen more than 130 people slain in Baghdad on Wednesday and Thursday — either killed in bombings or tortured and shot before being dumped on the city's streets.

The U.S. military blames the surge in sectarian killings on death squads that roam parts of Baghdad. In the mixed northwest Hurriyah neighborhood, leaflets thrown on its streets Friday threatened to kill 10 Sunni Arabs for every Shiite death.

"Mujahideen elements will kill 10 Sunnis if one Shiite is martyred inside or outside Hurriyah," the fliers said.

In other developments:

  • U.S. officials say they have not written off Iraq's troubled Anbar province — the country's largest, and one of its most violent — but neither are they sending more U.S. troops there to battle the insurgents. In fact, they have shifted some troops from Anbar to Baghdad this summer, not because security conditions are improving in the western province but because they are deteriorating even more in the capital area.
  • A U.S. soldier was missing Friday after a truck driven by a suicide bomber exploded near an Iraqi power substation about 12 miles west of Baghdad. The soldier "has been reported as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown," the military said, without elaborating.
  • Iraq has become one of the most violent conflict areas in the world, although it has been overshadowed in recent months by other crises in the Middle East, the top U.N. envoy in Iraq said Thursday. "In many parts of the country, insurgent, militia and terrorist attacks, as well as gross violations of human rights, have continued to inflict untold suffering, particularly on innocent civilians, most notably women, children and minorities," Ashraf Qazi told the U.N. Security Council.
  • Iraqi Kurds have demanded that the chief judge in the Saddam Hussein trial step down after he told the former president "you were not a dictator" in court. Judge Abdullah al-Amiri already has refused prosecution requests to step down over the comment, which a court spokesman attributed to a "slip of the tongue" on the experienced judge's part.
  • Shiite politicians, meanwhile, said they had made progress in trying to break a deadlock over legislation to establish autonomous regions as part of an Iraqi federation. Sunni Arabs oppose the bill, fearing it could split Iraq into three sectarian and ethnic cantons. The proposed legislation could be introduced next week.
  • A spokesman for the Conference of People of Iraq, a prominent Sunni Arab political party, was shot and killed Friday by gunmen, said a party official who did not want to be identified because he fears for his life. The spokesman was also an imam at a mosque in Baghdad and was on his way to conduct prayers at a mosque in Garma, 19 miles outside of Baghdad, when he was killed.

    Inspired by Islamic history, the plan to dig trenches around Baghdad is the newest — and perhaps strangest — twist in what has so far been a losing battle to prevent suicide car bombs and other weapons from being smuggled into the capital.

    "Trenches will be dug around Baghdad in the coming weeks," Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Kareem Khalaf told The Associated Press. "They will surround Baghdad."

    He provided no details of what distance the trenches would cover, nor how deep or wide they would be.