- The Washington Times - Friday, November 25, 2005

BAGHDAD — Sunni Arabs protested the slaying of a respected sheik yesterday, and a little-known Sunni group said a deadly car bombing was retaliation for the shooting death.

A videotape posted on the Internet — purportedly by al Qaeda in Iraq — showed how the terror group planned and carried out the Oct. 24 triple suicide attack against the Palestine and Sheraton hotels, in which 17 persons were killed.

A narrator said the Palestine — headquarters of the Associated Press, Fox News and others — was occupied “by foreign journalists and security companies,” but indicated the Sheraton was the main target because it housed “assassination teams, intelligence groups” and American soldiers.

The videotape’s authenticity could not be verified but it appeared on an Islamic Web site known for publishing messages from militant groups.

In northwestern Baghdad, more than 200 members of the Batta tribe gathered at a mosque carrying banners and chanting slogans to demand the resignation of the defense minister in the slaying Wednesday of Sheik Khadim Sarhid al-Hemaiyem.

One of the sheik’s brothers said gunmen using Iraqi army uniforms and vehicles broke into the family home; they killed Sheik al-Hemaiyem, three of his sons and his son-in-law. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry denied that government forces were involved.

Another one of Sheik al-Hemaiyem’s sons was killed by men in uniform last month, family members said.

“We want the Arab League and the Sunni scholars to investigate,” said Abdullah Jawad Khadim al-Battawi, a relative.

A statement from the little-known Partisans of the Sunni asserted the group carried out the car bombing Thursday in the mostly Shi’ite city of Hillah in retaliation for the slaying of Sheik al-Hemaiyem and other attacks on Sunni Arabs.

Eleven persons were killed and 17 were wounded in the Hillah attack.

“We have warned the [Shi’ites] to stop assassinations and detentions and torture,” the statement posted yesterday on an Islamist Web site said. “You should know, your blood is no more dear than ours. You kill our men, we kill yours. You kill our sheiks, we kill yours. You started this war.”

An Interior Ministry official said security forces were aware of the Partisans group, which has been active in the area south of Baghdad for months. The official said authorities suspect the same group was behind a suicide car bombing Thursday near a hospital in Mahmoudiya that killed 30 persons.

However, the Partisans statement did not mention the Mahmoudiya attack.

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