Twin bombings targeting the home of an Iraqi special forces officer killed at least 11 people and wounded 20 in the town of Samarra on Saturday, north of Baghdad, police and medics said.

  

The bomber, accompanied by another five cars loaded with heavily armed men, on Saturday slammed into a wall outside the home of Lieutenant Muthana al-Shakir, a member of a special forces unit, in Samarra, 95km north of Baghdad, said Lieutenant Qassim Muhammad of the Samarra police.  

 

All those killed were on the street when the attack occurred and not in al-Shakir's house. He was not injured, Muhammad said.  

 

At least six were killed in the initial explosion and the rest died later, hospital officials said.  

 

Fighters killed

 

Two fighters were killed when a roadside bomb they were planting outside al-Shakir's house after the attack blew up, he said.  

 

That bomb was intended to kill police and emergency services members when they arrived at the scene, Muhammad added.

 

The Samarra blast wounded
at least 20 people

The attack occurred at 4pm (1200 GMT) when six cars arrived on the street in front of al-Shakir's house.  

 

The five cars, whose occupants were armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, blocked the road and opened the way for the attacker to barrel into the home.

 

In Ramadi, armed men ambushed a highway checkpoint in western Iraq, killing eight policemen and wounding 10 more, police and hospital officials said.


The attack happened late on Friday on the outskirts of Ramadi, the capital of al-Anbar province, Dr Munim al-Kubaisi and Dr Muhammad al-Ani said.

 

The policemen belonged to a highway patrol unit in charge of the Ramadi section of the dangerous road from Baghdad to Jordan that cuts through the province.

 

Associated Press Television News footage showed the burnt-out hulks of at least 10 police vehicles and pools of blood in a building on the compound of the permanent checkpoint.

 

Closing in?

In al-Qaim area along the Iraqi border with Syria, an alleged top assistant to Iraq's most wanted man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Sulayman Khalid Darwish - codenamed Abu al-Ghadiya al-Soury - was killed in a US military operation, Aljazeera reports.

Abu al-Ghadiya was considered one of the founders of Jund al-Sham (Soldiers of al-Sham) with al-Zarqawi in training camps in Afghanistan in 1999, before he moved to Iaq to set up the Tawheed and Jihad group that later joined up with al-Qaida.

In a separate operation in the Zankura area of Ramadi, Iraqi soldiers backed by US forces arrested Jubair al-Jilbawi, an alleged partisan of al-Zarqawi, during a raid on his home, a military statement said.

Al-Jilbawi was identified as the commander of The Brigades of God's Wrath, which has been connected to several bomb attacks in Iraq.

 

Policemen killed

 

In a separate incident on Saturday, armed men killed three policemen on a road about 75km south of Amarah, police 1st Lieutenant Hussain Karim Hassan said.

 

Armed men ambushed the Iraqi
policemen late on Friday

The attackers got out of their car and opened fire on the policemen, killing them instantly, witnesses told police. Amarah is 290km southeast of Baghdad.

 

Elsewhere, armed men killed two policemen patrolling western Baghdad and wounded three others, police 1st Lieutenant Thaer Mahmud said. The victims belonged to a commando unit, he said.

 

Iraqi police found the corpse of a uniformed policeman in another section of Baghdad on Saturday.

 

The policeman had his hands bound behind his back and plastic wire around his neck, indicating that he had been strangled, police Captain Muhammad Izz al-Din said.

 

Fighters often attack Iraqi security forces because they are seen as collaborating with the Shia-led government and the United States

 

Five found dead  

 

Five Iraqi Shia buying poultry from farms south of Baghdad for resale in the capital were found dead near a river in the Triangle of Death area, a relative of two of them said.

  

The men, aged 20 to 45, went missing two days ago after leaving Baghdad in three mini-buses to buy poultry in Yussifiyah, said Hashim Abd al-Hussain, 32, who lost two of his nephews.

  

He and other relatives were led to a small river in the lush agricultural area to identify the bodies.

  

"It was a horrible sight," Abd al-Hussain said. "Unbelievable."

  

He said they were all shot in the head and their hands tied.

 

Detained

  

Iraqi and US-led forces have detained 51 suspects during raids in the area and further south around Mahawil and Hilla since Thursday as part of the recent expansion of the offensive dubbed Operation Lightning, a Defence Ministry statement said.

  

A crude oil pipeline in Yussifiyah
was attacked on Friday

A crude oil pipeline near Yussifiyah that was attacked with an explosive device on Friday left firefighters continuing to battle the huge flames, said a spokesman at the oil ministry in Baghdad on Saturday.

 

The pipeline carries crude from the southern fields around Basra to the large refinery and power plant complex in Dura in southern Baghdad, said Asem Jihad.

  

  

Clashes

 

In other clashes, a civilian was killed and four wounded in clashes between US, Iraqi forces and fighters in Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq after a roadside bomb attack against a US military convoy, said Captain Chaker Muhammad of the local police.

  

An Iraqi Kurdish contractor was shot dead and another wounded in a drive-by shooting south of the northern city of Kirkuk, a police officer said.  

 

Clashes in Tal Afar resulted in
the death of a civilian

Asu Ahmed died late on Friday and Khalil Muhammad was seriously wounded after armed men sprayed their car with automatic weapons fire in the village of Al-Salsah, Colonel Muhammad Khalid said. The men worked for a US company installing concrete blast walls.

  

The oil hub of Kirkuk is disputed by Iraqi Kurds, who want it to be the capital of their three autonomous provinces, claiming the ethnic make-up of the area was altered by the Arabisation drive of ousted leader Saddam Hussein. This has pitted them against Sunni Arabs and Turkmen.

  

In other violence, a firefight between police commandos and an unknown number of attackers in western Baghdad left two policemen dead and three wounded early on Saturday, a Defence Ministry source said.

  

In the capital's northeast Shia district of Sadr City, a local municipal council member was kidnapped from his home late on Friday, the source added, without being able to identify the victim.