Last week in Iraq
By Times Wires
Published November 4, 2007
-Gunmen in Baghdad snatched Sunni and Shiite tribal sheiks from their cars Oct. 28 as they were heading home to Diyala province after talks with the government on fighting al-Qaida. At least one was later found shot to death. On Monday, the clerics were rescued, and officials lowered the number seized to seven.
-A suicide car bomber struck a busy commercial area in the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk on Oct. 28, killing at least eight people and wounding 26, police said. In all, at least 35 people were killed or found dead across the nation.
-A suicide bomber rode his bicycle into a crowd of police recruits in Baqouba on Monday, killing at least 29 people in a province that has become a battleground among U.S. forces, al-Qaida militants and Shiite radicals.
-A previously reported downward trend in U.S. military and Iraqi civilian deaths in October held throughout the month, according to the Associated Press' end-of-the-month tally. The number of Iraqi civilians killed fell from at least 1,023 in September to at least 875 in October, according to the AP count. That is down sharply from the 1,216 recorded in October 2006. The drop in deaths among U.S. military personnel in Iraq was even more striking, down from 65 in September to at least 36 in October.
-The U.S. military has started giving more intelligence to Turkey to help it against rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party staging cross-border attacks from their hiding places in neighboring Iraq, Defense Department press secretary Geoff Morrell said Wednesday.
-The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month's deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, several law-enforcement officials told the Associated Press on Monday. The deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute guards for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.
-All State Department security convoys in Iraq will now fall under military control, the latest step taken by government officials to bring Blackwater USA and other armed contractors under tighter supervision, the Defense and State departments announced Tuesday.
-The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday approved a draft law to overturn an order imposed by the U.S. occupation authority in 2004 that granted the employees of foreign contractors immunity from Iraqi law. The draft law is expected to be passed overwhelmingly by Parliament.
-Several hundred U.S. diplomats vented anger and frustration Wednesday about the State Department's decision to force foreign service officers to take jobs in Iraq, with some likening it to a "potential death sentence." Employees at the Washington meeting confronted foreign service director general Harry Thomas, who approved the "directed assignments" Friday to make up for a lack of volunteers. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the U.S. envoy to Baghdad reminded diplomats on Friday of their duty to serve their country.
-Iran apparently has assured the Iraqi government that it will stop the flow into Iraq of bomb-making materials and other weaponry that U.S. officials say has inflamed insurgent violence and caused many American troop casualties, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday. "I don't know whether to believe them. I'll wait and see," Gates said.
- The number of attacks against U.S. soldiers has fallen to levels not seen since before the February 2006 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra that touched off waves of sectarian killing, according to U.S. military statistics released on Thursday. The death toll for American troops in October fell to 39, the lowest level since March 2006, and the eighth lowest total in 56 months of fighting, according to the Web site icasualties.org, which tracks military fatalities.
As of Saturday, 3,850 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. Identifications as reported by the U.S. military and not previously published:
-Army Pvt. Cody M. Carver, 19, Haskell, Okla.; explosive and small arms fire Oct. 30 in Salman Pak.
-Air Force Master Sgt. Thomas A. Crowell, 36, Neosho, Mo.; explosive Nov. 1 near Balad Air Base.
-Army Sgt. Louis A. Griese, 30, Sturgeon Bay, Wis.; explosive Nov. 1; northern Samarra.
-Army Pfc. Rush M. Jenkins, 22, Clarksville, Tenn.; explosive and small arms fire Oct. 30 ; Salman Pak.
-Army Spc. David E. Lambert, 39, Cedar Bluff, Va.; explosion Oct. 26; Baghdad.
-Army Sgt. Daniel L. McCall, 24, Pace; explosive and small arms fire Oct. 30; Salman Pak.
-Army Capt. Timothy I. McGovern, 28, Indiana, explosion Oct. 31; Mosul.
-Nathan J. Schuldheiss, 27, Newport, R.I.; explosive Nov. 1 near Balad Air Base.
-Army Spc. Brandon W. Smitherman, 21, Conroe, Texas; explosion Oct. 31; Mosul.
-Air Force Staff Sgt. David A. Wieger, 28, North Huntingdon, Pa.; explosive Nov. 1 near Balad Air Base.