By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS and DURAID ADNAN
June 24, 2010
BAGHDAD — Nine Iraqi police officers were killed during a series of attacks in Mosul and Baghdad late Wednesday and Thursday as the country’s political stalemate dragged on.
In the northern city of Mosul, three suicide bombers detonated themselves in separate attacks Thursday, killing four police officers and wounding eight others, the authorities said. The bombings came hours after three other police officers in the city were gunned down at a checkpoint Wednesday night.
On Thursday in Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded on Palestine Street as an Iraqi police patrol passed, killing two officers and wounding four others. Four civilians were also wounded.
In another northern city, Kirkuk, five other police officers were wounded Thursday by a roadside bomb that had been placed in an old refrigerator outside a police station, Iraqi authorities said.
Since Iraq’s March 7 elections, which failed to provide a clear winner, unrest has increased during a hot spring and summer in which temperatures have reached 120 degrees, and the tense atmosphere has been punctuated by political assassinations, riots over electricity shortages, bombings of banks and a campaign of killing members of the counterinsurgent Awakening Councils and their families.
Many of the recent attacks have occurred in Mosul, the capital of Nineveh Province.
Blame for much of the violence — including the electricity riots — has been placed on groups seeking to exploit the country’s political deadlock by sowing greater discord.
“The delay in forming the government affects the security situation because leaders and security forces need direction,” said Atheel al-Nujafi, the governor of Nineveh.
This week, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said he would not agree to curb the authority of his office, one of the sticking points in his negotiations with other parties to remain in power. Political leaders say it could take several more months for a government to be formed.
In addition to the deaths of the nine Iraqi police officers, the most recent attacks included the killing late Wednesday of at least two Awakening Council members in the village of Qulefa in Diyala Province, northeast of Baghdad.
Awakening Councils are groups of former insurgents that now side with the Iraqi government and the American military.
The men were taken from their homes in Qulefa by armed men wearing military uniforms about 11 p.m., neighbors said. They were found shot to death about an hour later.
Two other Awakening Council members who had been taken with them remain missing, residents of the village said Thursday.
Sunni insurgents have increased attacks on Awakening Councils in recent months, killing dozens of the groups’ members and their families.
Awakening Council leaders in Diyala Province say Al Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni insurgent group, issued a directive recently saying that the murder of a single Awakening Council member was equal in value to the death of 20 American soldiers.
“I blame Al Qaeda for this,” said Omar Khalid, 40, a relative of the victims. “They do not want us to live in peace. Why don’t they let us deal with them and fight them? We are running out of patience. The law is not protecting our rights. We are bleeding because of Al Qaeda.”
Zaid Thaker contributed reporting from Baghdad, and employees of The New York Times from Diyala and Kirkuk Provinces.