- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2006

BAGHDAD — Two suicide bombers disguised as police struck the heavily fortified Interior Ministry compound in Baghdad yesterday during celebrations of National Police Day, killing 29 Iraqis.

The attackers died before getting near the U.S. ambassador and senior Iraqi officials at the festivities, but they struck during a particularly deadly week for American and Iraqi forces.

Iraqi police also were searching for a U.S. journalist kidnapped Saturday by gunmen who ambushed her car and killed her translator in Baghdad.

Jill Carroll, a 28-year-old freelancer for the Christian Science Monitor, was seized in the capital’s predominantly Sunni Arab al-Adel neighborhood. Police said she went there to see a Sunni politician.

After initial reports of the kidnapping, the Associated Press and other news organizations honored a request from the newspaper for a news blackout to give authorities an opportunity to try to resolve the incident.

As violence escalated, Iraq’s electoral commission again delayed release of the results of the Dec. 15 parliamentary vote.

An Internet site known for publishing material from Abu Musab Zarqawi, leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, carried a claim of responsibility for the suicide attack, saying it was revenge for the torture of Sunni Arab prisoners at two detention facilities run by the Shi’ite-led Interior Ministry.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said eight American troops and four U.S. civilians died aboard a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter that crashed Saturday in northern Iraq.

Sunni Arabs also expressed anger over a raid Sunday by U.S. troops on the Umm al-Qura mosque, the Baghdad headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni clerical group.

The mosque is in the al-Adel neighborhood, the area where the American journalist was kidnapped.

The military said the raid was carried out after a tip from an Iraqi about “significant terrorist-related activity in the building.” Six persons were detained.

The suicide attack on the sprawling Interior Ministry compound occurred after a particularly deadly four-day period for Americans. At least 28, including 24 troops, have been killed since Thursday.

At least 498 Iraqis — 355 civilians and 143 security force members — have been killed. Since the Dec. 15 elections, 54 U.S. troops have died. With the latest military deaths, at least 2,207 U.S. service members have died since the war started in March 2003, according to an AP count.

The bombs exploded in quick succession about 1,500 feet from the parade being watched by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, Defense Minister Sadoun al-Dulaimi and hundreds of others.

None of the officials was hurt and the ceremony was not interrupted, a U.S. military spokesman said.

The first attacker was shot by police, but his explosives detonated. The second detonated his explosives. One bomber was wearing the uniform of an Iraqi police major, and the other was dressed as a lieutenant colonel. Both had passes that enabled them to get through checkpoints and into the compound.

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