Violence continues in Baghdad, suspected al-Quaeda leader arrested

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Iraq witnessed more violence, with more than 30 people killed and a well known football player abducted. The incidents follow Sunday's arrest of "al-Qaeda second-in-command in Iraq" by security forces.

The bodies of 33 men were discovered dumped in various places in Baghdad today. The men had been blindfolded, had their hands and feet bound, were tortured and shot dead.

On Saturday, a well known Iraqi football player, 22-year old Ghanim Ghudayer, was abducted by persons wearing military uniforms and has not been seen since. Ghudayer is a member of Baghdad's Air Force Club.

South of Baghdad in the town of Kut, two more bodies were discovered found near a roadside. Both of the victims had been shot execution style, according to the local pathologist. The execution style killing has coincided with an Iraqi forces effort to secure the city of Karbala in advance of a Shiite religious holiday, set for 9 September. So far the fighting has killed 14 gunmen and one soldier.

The incidents follow Sunday's announcement by the Iraqi security service that they had arrested Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, who they claimed was al-Qaeda's second-in-command in Iraq.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who made a surprise visit to Baghdad, said "We do not underestimate the challenges ahead, But we must not forget the progress made in the last twelve months in bringing the first democratically elected national unity government to the country, with a constitution voted for by the people." The visit comes as public support for the Iraq operation is beginning to sag on both sides of the Atlantic.

Iraq's parliament voted to extend Iraq's two-year-old state of emergency by another month. The state of emergency grants security forces special powers of curfew and detention.

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