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Suspect Arrested In Death Of Sunni Leader

The wreckage of a vehicle is seen where Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, founder of Anbar Awakening, died in an explosion a day earlier in Iraq's Anbar province in the provincial capital of Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad on Friday, Sept. 14, 2007. The most prominent figure in a revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq was killed Thursday in an explosion near his home in Anbar province. (AP Photo)
AP
U.S. military said Sunday that a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq fighter was arrested in connection with the assassination of a U.S.-allied Sunni tribal leader in Anbar province.

Fallah Khalifa Hiyas Fayyas al-Jumayli, also known as Abu Khamis, was captured Saturday west of Balad, the military said, adding he was believed to be responsible for the roadside bomb that killed Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha last week.

Abu Risha was leader of the Anbar Salvation Council, also known as the Anbar Awakening - an alliance of clans backing the Iraqi government and U.S. forces against al Qaeda in Iraq. The terror network issued a statement claiming responsibility for his death.

Al-Jumayli was accused of involvement in a plot to kill key leaders in the tribal alliance, military spokesman Rear Adm. Mark Fox said.

He also reportedly was responsible for car bomb and suicide vest attacks in Anbar and was closely allied with senior al Qaeda in Iraq leaders in the region west of Baghdad.

In Other Developments:

  • Security contractors opened fire in western Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least nine civilians and wounding 18, Iraqi police said. The U.S. Embassy said contractors working for the State Department were involved in an incident but provided no further details. The shootings happened about 12:30 on Nisoor Square in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Mansour, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information. The security contractors were in a convoy of six SUVs and left the scene after the shooting. The policeman said he did not have more details, but a witness said the shooting erupted after an explosion. There are tens of thousands of private security contractors, including many Americans and Britons, operating in Iraq to offer protection for Westerners and dignitaries. They are equipped with automatic weapons, body armor, helicopters and bulletproof vehicles and operate with little or no supervision, accountable only to the firms employing them. Many contractors have been accused of indiscriminately firing at American and Iraqi troops, and of shooting to death an unknown number of Iraqi citizens who got too close to their heavily armed convoys, but not one has faced charges or prosecution. The wartime numbers of private guards are unprecedented - as are their duties, many of which have traditionally been done by soldiers. They protect U.S. military operations and have guarded high-ranking officials including Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Baghdad. They also protect journalists, visiting foreign officials and thousands of construction projects.
  •  A booby-trapped bicycle exploded near a café serving tea and food during Ramadan fasting hours Sunday, killing at least five people in a religiously mixed area in northern Iraq, police said. The attack in Tuz Khormato, 130 miles north of Baghdad, came a day after al-Qaida in Iraq announced a new offensive in Ramadan, the Islamic holy month that began last week. Witnesses said a boy left the bicycle bomb near the cafe, which was located in a popular market and was one of the few open during daylight hours despite Ramadan. Two of the slain victims were in the cafe, while three were in the market, police chief Capt. Abbas Mohammed said. He also said 19 people were wounded.
  •  The government, meanwhile, faced a deepening political crisis with Saturday's announcement that anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's followers were withdrawing from the Shiite alliance in parliament. Al-Sadr's followers hold 30 of the 275 parliament seats. The announcement means the Shiite-led government can count on the support of only 108 parliament members - 30 short of a majority. However, it could probably win the backing of the 30 independent Shiite parliamentarians, as well as some minor parties. Still, the decision by al-Sadr's followers will complicate further U.S.-backed efforts to win parliamentary approval of power-sharing legislation, including the oil bill and an easing of curbs that prevent former Saddam Hussein supporters from holding government jobs. Al-Sadr's decision will also sharpen the power struggle among armed Shiite groups in the south, which includes major Shiite religious shrines and much of the country's vast oil resources.
  •  Internal Shiite clashes broke out at a market in the Hamzah al-Gharbi area near Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, when shop owners from the Albu Jassim tribe fought back against militia fighters, leaving one civilian dead, a provincial police official said. The bullet-riddled bodies of a traffic police chief and his 11-year-old son also were found after they were kidnapped during the fighting, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
  •  Iraqis in the predominantly Shiite area of Shaab in eastern Baghdad also rallied to demand that the government intervene to stop U.S.-led raids in the area. Demonstrators burned the American flag and changed anti-U.S. slogans, but no violence was reported.
  •  A mortar shell landed near the Shaab stadium in eastern Baghdad, killing one person and wounding three.
  •  Attackers blew up a school in Qarah Tappa, 70 miles north of Baqouba, days before final exams were to be held.
  •  Gunmen killed a police officer near his home near Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad, late Saturday.