Iraqi insurgents plant Qaeda flag in heart of Baghdad

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Baghdad (Iraq), July 30 (ANI): Unidentified gunmen struck two police checkpoints here on Thursday before a series of roadside bombs detonated on police and army patrols responding to the violence.

The attack took place in the Adhamiya section of Baghdad, which has seen some of the most vicious sectarian fighting in the past decade.

According to the New York Times, the gunmen raised the black flag of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

An official of the Interior Ministry said six soldiers and police officers and ten civilians were killed, while 14 others were wounded.

Later, ten more civilians were injured in a gunfight between insurgents and Iraqi security forces that lasted into the evening and put the neighborhood into a virtual lockdown as the army and police sealed off roads.

The violence is the latest in a series of attacks in recent weeks claimed by, or attributed to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a largely homegrown Sunni militant organization.

Among them were the bombing of the Trade Bank of Iraq, an assault on the Central Bank, a suicide attack on an Arabic-language satellite news channel and the slaughter of more than 40 Awakening members, mostly former insurgents who had become aligned with the government, as they picked up their paychecks.

In sum, the attacks suggest an insurgency still very much capable of terrorizing the Iraqi population on a nearly daily basis, despite frequent statements from United States military commanders that the group has been severely impeded.

Meanwhile, the United States military has announced that ten people with ties to the insurgent group were arrested in joint raids with the Iraqi security forces in or near Baghdad, but not in Adhamiya.

The persistent violence is taking place as the United States military is drawing down its forces, inevitably spurring reflections on the legacy of the conflict here and the conditions the Americans are leaving behind.

It has placed American military and civilian officials here in the delicate position of stressing improvements relative to the violence that raged in 2006 and 2007. (ANI)

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