- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2007

BAGHDAD — A bomb hidden in a parked car struck the funeral procession of a Sunni tribal leader who was gunned down earlier yesterday, killing at least 26 mourners as al Qaeda appeared to turn up its campaign of frightening its growing opposition into submission.

The attack in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, targeted the passing procession for Alaa Zuwaid, a 60-year-old restaurant owner who was part of a Sunni tribe that had formed an alliance with other tribal leaders against al Qaeda. Police and medical officials said 45 others were wounded in the bombing.

Mr. Zuwaid was killed yesterday morning when militants shot him in front of his house, police said — nearly a month after his 25-year-old son was slain as he walked down the street.

In all, 86 persons were killed or found dead in sectarian violence across Iraq yesterday.

Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops pressed their search for two missing U.S. soldiers through the fields of southern Iraq in scorching heat, and the military said it would not call off the hunt.

The body of a third soldier — 20-year-old Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., missing since a May 12 ambush claimed by al Qaeda — was pulled from the Euphrates River and identified Wednesday.

Members of Pfc. Anzack’s platoon choked back tears at news of his death and said they would not stop looking for the two others.

“We can’t leave them behind. I just hope that they have enough faith to keep them going. What they’re going through right now, I can’t imagine,” said Pfc. Sammy Rhodes, 25, of Albuquerque, N.M.

The U.S. military also announced yesterday that two U.S. soldiers were killed the previous day while participating in combat operations in Iraq’s volatile Anbar province. Those deaths raised the American death toll for the month to at least 82. Last month, 104 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, asked parliament to approve six new Cabinet ministers, all independents, to replace a group loyal to radical Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr that resigned on his orders last month.

There was no quorum and a vote on the nominees was put off until Sunday.

Sheik al-Sadr, who went into hiding in Iran at the start of the Baghdad security crackdown, ordered his ministers to quit the government over Mr. al-Maliki’s refusal to call for a timetable for U.S. withdrawal.

In other violence yesterday, gunmen attacked a small bus in a predominantly Shi’ite region on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, killing 11 passengers. Then the gunmen planted a bomb on the bus, which they detonated when police arrived. Four policemen were wounded.

A suicide bomber detonated a bomb aboard another small bus driving through Baghdad, killing three civilians and wounding eight, police said.

In Sulaiman Bek, 75 miles south of the northern city of Kirkuk, a roadside bomb an Iraqi police convoy killed six police officers yesterday morning, Iraqi police said.

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