Friday, August 24, 2007


Al Qaeda kidnaps women and children in attack on villages

(Gulf News) - Al Qaida fighters kidnapped 15 Iraqi women and children after rival Sunni militants repelled their attack on two villages in a fierce battle yesterday in which 32 people were killed, police said. The fighting, rare on such a large scale, underscored the growing split between Sunni militant groups and Al Qaida that US forces have sought to exploit as they try to quell sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands.
About 200 Al Qaida fighters raided the villages of Shaikh Tamim and Ebrahim Yehia in restive Diyala province, north of Baghdad, early yesterday after launching a mortar attack on the area, police said. The attack came despite a US offensive in Diyala targeting Al Qaida. The US troops launched an operation in June to oust fighters who had taken over large parts of the provincial capital, Baquba. Many escaped to fight on.

Brigadier-General Ali Delayan, police chief of Baquba, told Reuters that 22 residents had been killed in the fighting along with 10 Al Qaida fighters. Several wounded residents said villagers were loyal to the Sunni insurgent group, the 1920 Revolution Brigade. Delayan said the attackers had escaped with eight women and seven children as hostages.
A mosque that served the two villages was destroyed in the fighting and its imam was among those killed, he added. Delayan said Al Qaida attackers mortared the villages before storming into them. Rocket-propelled grenades were used in the fighting, in which three houses were destroyed. He said the gun battle with fighters loyal to the 1920 Revolution Brigade, which has recently distanced itself from Al Qaida, was triggered by the execution of four men, including the mosque imam.
Police said they arrested 22 of the attackers. The Shiite-led government and the US military still view Al Qaida as the main threat to peace in Iraq, despite the fact that is fighters make up only a small percentage of Sunni militants and many of its leaders have been killed or captured.
COMMENT: This act will only heighten violence between Sunni militants, tribes and Al Qaeda and is likely to turn more people against them. Al Qaeda have nor previously kidnapped such a large number of women and children only. The fate of the kidnapped women and children will also affect the outcome. COMMENT ENDS.

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