BAGHDAD – Sunni-led insurgents killed 11 Iraqi security forces and wounded 14 in two separate attacks Friday, as Shiites began celebrating a major Muslim holiday. Al Qaeda (search) in Iraq threatened more attacks on diplomats here.
Also Friday, the U.S. military said it killed five senior Al Qaeda in Iraq figures during an airstrike Oct. 29 in Husaybah (search) near the Syrian border. The five, including at least one North African, were responsible for bombings of U.S. and Iraqi forces, the announcement said.
Friday's worst attack by insurgents occurred at an Iraqi police checkpoint in Buhriz, 35 miles north of Baghdad.
The militants fired mortar rounds, then arrived in eight cars and opened fire, a police officer said. At least six policemen were killed and 10 wounded in the ensuing gunbattle, and it was not immediately known if any militants were hurt, the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of concern for his own safety.
In the town of Tuz Khormato, 130 miles north of Baghdad, a roadside bomb hit an Iraqi convoy, killing five police commandos working with Iraq's Interior Ministry and wounding four others, said police Brig. Sarhad Qadir.
On the outskirts of the capital, near the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib (search) prison, insurgents fired a mortar round that missed an American base but hit a village home, killing a child and wounding the mother and another one of her children, said police 1st Lt. Ahmed Ali.
Suspected insurgents also shot and killed Tarijk Hasan, a former colonel in the Iraqi air force, as he drove through Baghdad on Thursday, said police Capt. Talib Thamir.
Late Thursday, a U.S. soldier also died near Talil, 170 miles southeast of Baghdad (search), the military said. The death, apparently of non-hostile causes, brought to 2,038 the number of U.S. military service members who have died since the war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
The Al Qaeda threat to foreign diplomats was contained in a statement posted on an Islamic Web site. It was posted one day after the country's most feared terror group announced it had condemned two Moroccan embassy employees to death.
"We are renewing our threat to those so-called diplomatic missions who have insisted on staying in Baghdad and have not yet realized the repercussions of such a challenge to the will of the mujahedeen," the Friday statement said.
In July, Al Qaeda in Iraq kidnapped and killed two Algerian and one Egyptian diplomat in an apparent campaign to prevent Arab and Islamic countries from strengthening ties to the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. Senior envoys from Pakistan and Bahrain also escaped kidnap attempts. More than 40 diplomatic missions are currently in Iraq.
The latest Al Qaeda statement appeared as majority Shiites began the three-day religious holiday of Eid al-Fitr (search), which ends a month of fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Most of Iraq's minority Sunni Arabs began to celebrate Eid on Thursday — based on their different interpretation of the lunar calendar. In war-torn cities such as Baghdad, Sunnis marked the holiday by dressing up, taking their children to local amusement parks, and serving lavish meals to friends and relatives at their homes.
Shiites did the same thing Friday.
In Sadr City, a large Shiite area of Baghdad, crowds of children lined up for rides at small local amusement parks. But security by police and local militias remained tight, given all the insurgent attacks that occur in the capital, including suicide car bombs, drive-by shootings and roadside bombs.
"We cannot fully enjoy Eid because of all the explosions we hear," said Karar al-Aboudi, 25, the owner of a stall near one park. "We have no reason to celebrate under occupation and terrorism. We pray to God that in the next Eid, our country will be stable and free."
In a speech marking Eid in another part of Baghdad, a top Shiite leader urged voters to support his coalition in Iraq's Dec. 15 parliamentary election.
Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq, told a crowd gathered at his party headquarters that the aim of his candidates is "to protect all Iraqis, not only Shiites but also minority Sunnis and Kurds."
Two major religious parties — SCIRI and Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's Dawa Party — form Iraq's top Shiite alliance. Both parties have been criticized for their close ties to Iran.
When Iraq elected its current interim parliament on Jan. 30, many Sunnis boycotted the vote, and the Shiite alliance won the biggest share of seats. But many Sunnis are expected to vote in the December balloting for a new parliament, one that will remain in power for four years.