News Column

Iraq: New Protests Break Out in Sunni Stronghold

Dec. 27, 2012

Wire services

Large, noisy demonstrations against Iraq's government flared for the third time in less than a week Wednesday in Iraq's western Anbar province, raising the prospect of a fresh bout of unrest in a onetime al-Qaida stronghold on Syria's doorstep.

The rallies find echoes in the Arab Spring. Protesters chanted the people want the downfall of the regime, a slogan that has rippled across the region and was fulfilled in Tunisia and Egypt. Other rallying cries blasted Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government as illegitimate and warned that protesters will cut off any hand that touches us.

While the demonstrators' tenacious show of force could signal the start of a more populist Sunni opposition movement, it risks widening the deep and increasingly bitter rifts with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. If left unresolved, those disputes could lead to a new eruption of sectarian violence.

The car bombings and other indiscriminate attacks that still plague Iraq are primarily the work of Sunni extremists.

Vast Anbar province was once the heart of the deadly Sunni insurgency that emerged after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, and later the birthplace of a Sunni militia that helped American and Iraqi forces fight al-Qaida.

3 Afghans killed in attack on U.S. base

KABUL, Afghanistan A suicide car bomber targeting a U.S.- operated base in eastern Afghanistan killed at least three Afghans and injured six others Wednesday, officials said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties among U.S. or North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces.

Afghan officials said the attack happened the entrance to Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khowst, a province near the border with Pakistan that is a hotbed of insurgent activity.

The bomber detonated a minivan packed with explosives when stopped by Afghan security guards at a checkpoint on a road leading to the base, said Provincial Police Chief Abdul Qayoum Baqizoy. One of the guards and two civilian drivers were killed in the blast, which also injured six other people, he said.

The Taliban took responsibility for Wednesday's attack in a statement posted on its website, claiming that more than 100 enemies were killed. The insurgents routinely exaggerate the effects of their attacks.

Ohio native wins 2nd highest honor

An Ohio native who grew up to be a U.S. Army Ranger has been awarded the military's second-highest award for valor.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that 22-year-old Sgt. Craig Warfle who grew up in Stow, near Akron was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for actions in battle in Afghanistan in 2010.

The Army said that on Aug. 18 and 19, 2010, Warfle displayed heroism while on a mission to kill and capture Taliban members. His squad leader was killed, and Warfle was wounded in the firefight that resulted in the death of at least 16 Taliban fighters.

SNAPSHOT

Afghan toll: As of Wednesday, at least 2,040 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,701 of these deaths resulted from hostile action. Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 18,154 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department.



Source: (C) 2012 The Commercial Appeal (2007-Current). via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved


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