Bombs kill 16 around Baghdad

A woman inspects damage done to her house after a roadside bomb blast in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2007.

The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 9:24 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 9:24 a.m.

BAGHDAD - Bombs killed at least 16 people Thursday in attacks across the Iraqi capital and its northern suburbs, but many here are increasingly concerned about the threat of attacks by Turkey against the country's northern Kurdish areas.

Iraqis worry that a Turkish cross-border campaign, provoked by Kurdish rebel attacks, would spread disorder in one of the few relatively stable areas in Iraq. A Turkish incursion also would put the United States in the middle of a fight between key allies: NATO-member Turkey, the Baghdad government and the Iraqi Kurds of Iraq's semi-independent Kurdistan region.

Turkey's foreign minister said Thursday that any incursion by Turkish forces into Iraq would target Kurdish guerrilla fighters and their bases and "would not be an invasion."

Ali Babacan said an upcoming meeting Monday between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Bush "will determine the steps that Turkey would take." But if Turkey sends its troops into Iraq, "any cross-border attack would be aimed at hitting terrorist bases and would not be an invasion," he said.

He also said some economic measures aimed at rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq already have been put in place, and Turkey is also considering stopping flights to the region.

A lawmaker from the Kurdish bloc in Iraq's parliament, Bayazed Hassan Abdullah, said Thursday that he worried such sanctions would end up hurting businesses in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region with no links to the rebels.

"It will not be good, and it'll be a loss for the Turkish government too," Abdullah told The Associated Press. "It will affect the Kurdish region because there are strong economic relations between Kurdistan and the Turkish government."

Other Iraqis said they believe Turkey has a right to use economic measures to crack down on what they consider aggression by the PKK, which has bases in the rugged border region between Turkey and Iraq.

"Turkey should impose severe sanctions," said Khamas al-Janabi, a doctor living in Baghdad.

"Kurdish parties ... should either prevent (Kurdish rebel attacks) or force the PKK elements to leave the northern part of the country, otherwise Turkey has the right to launch attacks on PKK bases," al-Janabi said.

So far, the Turkish military has limited its assaults against PKK fighters in Iraq to shelling and bombing just inside Iraq's side of the border zone.

Monday's talks between Erdogan and Bush could be key in averting a Turkish military incursion deep inside northern Iraq.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday that Bush would use the meeting to emphasize that Washington expects the Iraqi government to act against the group, which is labeled a terrorist organization by both the European Union and the United States.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, has said Iraq will try to stop PKK cross-border attacks. He also pledged that his government would set up more checkpoints set up along its northern border to halt shipments of fuel, food and other supplies to Kurdish insurgents.

In Baghdad on Thursday, police said bombs killed at least 16 people in scattered attacks across Baghdad and areas on the city's northern belts.

And the U.S. military announced the deaths of two American soldiers, killed by an explosion near their vehicle in Iraq's northern Ninevah province. Two other soldiers were wounded by the blast, which occurred Wednesday, the military said in a statement.

At least 3,844 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians.

A roadside bomb killed five people Thursday near a shelter used as a police recruiting center in northeast Baghdad's Shiite-dominated neighborhood of Binouk, police said.

Six other people were wounded, they said. Most of the victims were recruits lining up outside the shelter.

In Balad Ruz, an ethnically mixed city 45 miles northeast of the capital, another roadside bomb exploded near a convoy carrying the police chief of Balad Ruz, Col. Faris al-Amirie, police said.

Six of al-Amirie's guards were killed and eight others were hurt, but the chief escaped injury, they said.

And in Sadiyah, 60 miles north of Baghdad, police said a cluster of three attacks took place around 10:40 a.m., killing five people and wounding 18 others.

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