While violence level drops, concern grows over nation’s capacity for handling influx.
US commanders have said Diyala is one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq after al-Qaeda fighters were driven out of the western province of Anbar and other areas of Iraq.
On Tuesday, the leader of an al-Qaeda-linked group warned in an Internet audio message of renewed attacks in Iraq and announced the formation of a new brigade.
|Ice Man, Atlanta, US|
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq group, said a new brigade called Al-Siddiq Brigades had been formed to fight every “apostate and traitor,” the SITE intelligence group said.
Baghdadi warned of a bombing campaign that will continue until January 2008.
“This attack involves bombings aimed at the ‘apostates’ and members of the Awakening Councils,” it added.
The term apostates is usually used to refer to Iraqi security forces.
The US military dismisses Baghdadi as a “fictional character”, saying he that he has been invented by supporters of al-Qaeda on the internet.
A bomb exploded under an oil pipeline in northern Iraq, but oil continues to flow through the damaged pipe, Iraqi police said.
The blast went off beneath a stretch of pipeline in al-Fatha, east of Beiji.
Beiji – located 250km north of Baghdad – houses northern Iraq’s largest oil refinery, and serves as a transfer point for crude oil being exported out of Iraq.
The pipeline targeted on Friday was one of five in a cluster of pipelines that carry about 500,000 barrels of oil daily from the Kirkuk region to Beiji.
Crude oil is collected throughout northern Iraq, then processed and purified in Kirkuk before being transported to Beiji for refining.
Attacks on the Kirkuk-Beiji pipeline cluster have been infrequent in recent months, with some 300 US soldiers and more than 2,000 Iraqi troops guarding the area.