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A leader of the Iraqi group assails bin Laden.
BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber attacked a checkpoint manned by a group fighting against al-Qaida in Iraq, killing 12 people in one of a series of strikes Monday against the largely Sunni movement singled out by Osama bin Laden as a "disgrace and shame."
A leader of the rapidly expanding U.S.-backed movement, credited with helping cut violence across the country by 60 percent since June, condemned bin Laden's latest message to his followers.
"We consider our fighting against al-Qaida to be a popular revolution against the devil," said Sheik Mohammed Saleh al-Dohan, head of one of the groups, known as "awakening councils," in southern Ramadi, a city in Anbar province where the movement was born.
Dohan blamed al-Qaida, which espouses a radical version of Sunni Islam, for bringing destruction to Iraq: "They made enemies between Sunnis, Shiites and Christians who lived in peace for centuries."
Bin Laden and his fighters "are the traitors who betrayed the Muslim nation and brought shame to Islam in all the world," he said.
In the most serious attack against one of the groups Monday, a suicide bomber drove a minibus rigged with explosives into a checkpoint in Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad, police and a member of the local council said.
The explosion killed 12 people, said Adil al-Mishhadani, a member of the council. The council commander, who gave his name only as Abu Arkan for security reasons, said later that the dead included three children on their way to school and nine council members.
Three people were missing, Abu Arkan said.
Charges are reduced in killings of Iraqis
LOS ANGELES - A Marine will be court-martialed on reduced charges in the killings of 24 Iraqi men, women and children in the town of Haditha in 2005, the Marine Corps announced Monday.
Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 27, of Meriden, Conn., will stand trial on charges of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice. No trial date was set.
More serious charges of unpremeditated murder, as well as charges of soliciting another to commit an offense and making a false official statement, were dismissed by the Marine Corps.
Wuterich's prosecution is part of the biggest U.S. criminal case involving civilian deaths to come out of the Iraq war.
The killings occurred Nov. 19, 2005, after a roadside bomb hit a Marine convoy, killing the driver of a Humvee and wounding two other Marines. Wuterich and a squad member, Sgt. Sanick Dela Cruz, allegedly shot five men by a car at the scene. Wuterich then ordered his men into several houses, where they cleared rooms with grenades and gunfire, killing unarmed civilians in the process.
[Last modified December 31, 2007, 22:53:47]