9 killed in attacks, including 3 soldiers
Due to a ballot box recount, final results of the election will be delayed.
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Gunmen killed six people Wednesday -- three members of a Kurdish political party, a housing minister, a reporter for a U.S.-funded television network and his 11-year-old son -- and the U.S. military announced the deaths of three soldiers as attacks continued around the country in the aftermath of Jan. 30 parliamentary elections.
Iraqi officials said final results of the election, which were expected to be announced by Thursday, would be delayed to allow a recount of the contents of about 300 ballot boxes.
In a brazen attack Wednesday, gunmen killed Abdul Hussein Khazal Basri, 40, and his son, Karrar, in front of their home in the southern city of Basra, witnesses said. Khazal reported for Virginia-based al-Hurra, which was launched in February 2004 as a counter to Arabic language television networks Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, which U.S. officials contend broadcast anti-American propaganda. Basri was also an official of Dawa, a prominent Shiite political party, and a spokesman for the Basra city council.
Witnesses indicated the gunmen did not hesitate to open fire even though Basri was with his son. Hatem Aqeeli, who was standing nearby, said the gunmen converged from both sides and attacked Basri and his son as they drove in Basri's pickup. Aqeeli said the assailants fired at least 13 times.
Asked to assess the efforts of U.S. and Iraqi forces to stem the insurgency, a senior U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad told a group of reporters: "First of all, I think this is going to take quite a number of years. I do not see an early end."
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said "the most optimistic scenario" was a political solution that both reassures and protects Iraq's Sunni Arab minority combined with increased military pressure that would make the insurgents "less and less effective."
"And then," the official said, "it will still take you years."
An average of about 18 people a day have been killed in Iraq in the 10 days since the elections. The attacks have been largely focused on Iraqi soldiers, police officers, and army and police recruits, but the incidents reported Wednesday underscored the reality that insurgent violence has not been limited by geography or targets.
Insurgents attacked an oil pipeline before dawn about 15 miles north of the town of Baiji, setting the pipeline ablaze. A security guard hired to protect the site said he and other guards fled before the attack after being warned by the insurgents.
"Let me say it frankly: We are afraid of these people," said Mahmoud Mohammed, 21. "They came to us and threatened us: If we do not cooperate with them or if we resist them, they will kill us. So when they came, we went immediately to our rooms and they attacked the pipeline. We don't want to lose our lives. They know everything about me: my family, my house. Even the authorities in Baiji know them, but they cannot do anything to them because they are afraid."
At 7:30 a.m. in Baghdad, four armed men dragged Riyadh Gatea Alaiwi from his BMW and abducted him while he was on his way to work in the Interior Ministry's operations department.