Published January 13, 2015
Gunmen fired on a car carrying a newlywed couple and their families on Friday, killing the 23-year-old bride and wounding the Iraqi army captain she had just married. Eleven other people died in violence nationwide.
Algerian authorities, meanwhile, expressed surprise that two of their diplomats were abducted Thursday, saying Algiers (search) has steadfastly refused to take part in the U.S.-led coalition.
The attack on the newlyweds came after Iraqi army captain Wissam Abdul-Wahab (search) and his bride, Sally, were picked up Friday by their families after spending their wedding night at a hotel in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood. Police initially said her mother was also killed, but relatives on the scene denied it.
"My poor Sally, she was very happy yesterday," sobbed the bride's mother-in-law, Latifah Mohammed, too distraught to tell her son his new wife was dead.
Insurgents frequently target Iraqi forces seen as collaborating with the U.S. efforts in the country.
Abdul-Wahab's brother, Ahmed Abdul-Wahab (search), who was wounded in the drive-by shooting, said he believed assailants came after them because he was a police lieutenant in Fallujah while Wissam was a captain in the Iraqi army.
"We don't have any enemies to be attacked like this, but I'm sure that they targeted us just because my brother is an army officer and I'm a police officer. ... But I'm sure God will get revenge for us from those criminals who target Iraqi security forces."
Also Friday, the U.S. military announced that a Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team-8 of the 2nd Marine Division was killed the day before in a roadside bombing while conducting combat operations west of Baghdad.
At least 1,774 members of the U.S. military had died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
The chief of Algeria's mission in Iraq, charge d'affaires Ali Belaroussi (search), 62, and another Algerian diplomat, Azzedine Belkadi (search), 47, were abducted Thursday along with their driver in west Baghdad's upscale Mansour district.
Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Al-Khafaji told Al-Jazeera television that the Algerian envoy had refused Iraqi offers to provide him with bodyguards, saying he didn't need protection because "Algeria's relationship with the Iraqis is good."
The kidnappings brought to five the number of key diplomats from Islamic countries targeted in Baghdad in less than three weeks in an attempt to undermine the U.S.-supported Iraqi government.
By Friday, no claim of responsibility had surfaced, Algerian authorities said.
A fellow diplomat, Abdelwahab Felahi, told Algerian radio that he was in another car when he saw their brake lights flash and knew there was a problem.
"I wasn't armed, and I couldn't intervene, and in the time it took to warn police in front of the embassy, the kidnappers, diplomats and their vehicle had disappeared," said Felahi. He said he had been scheduled to meet Belaroussi for lunch a half-hour after the time of the kidnapping.
A career diplomat and father of four, Belaroussi has been in Iraq for about two years. He previously had served as financial director at Algeria's embassy in Paris from 1997 to 2002, Algerian officials said.
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari pledged to increase security for diplomats but warned them to avoid going to dangerous areas. The Mansour district has been the site of a number of kidnappings, including those of Americans Jack Hensley and Eugene Armstrong and Briton Kenneth Bigley. All three were later killed.
Egypt's top envoy, Ihab al-Sherif, reportedly was seized at gunpoint in another western Baghdad neighborhood while he was buying a newspaper on July 2, also without security. Three days later, gunmen opened fire on senior envoys from Pakistan and Bahrain in separate attacks as they were traveling in west Baghdad in what police said were kidnap attempts.
The Pakistani diplomat's security guards returned fire and the assailants fled, police and Pakistani officials said. The Bahraini, who was slightly wounded, had no bodyguards. But a nearby traffic policeman saw the shooting, fired his pistol in the air and the assailants fled, police said.
Al Qaeda's wing in Iraq, the country's most feared terror group, claimed responsibility in Web statements for kidnapping al-Sherif and later claimed to have killed him.
The militants want to seize "as many ambassadors as we can" to punish governments that support Iraq's Shiite-dominated and U.S-supported government, according to an Internet statement attributed to the group, led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
A total of 49 countries or entities have some form of diplomatic representation in Iraq, including 18 Arab or non-Arab Muslim countries, according to Iraq's Foreign Ministry and country Web sites.
A prominent Sunni Arab cleric, meanwhile, denounced Kurdish proposals to transform Iraq into a federal state as a plot to deny other Iraqis "our wealth and resources."
"We don't want a constitution that leads to the division of the country. We are hearing cries for federalism, cries of those who are not honest to this country," Sheik Mahmoud al-Sumaidaie told worshippers Friday during a sermon at the Umm al-Qura mosque.
Sunni Arabs have said will not participate in a committee drafting a new constitution until the government meets their demands and provides better security. The boycott raises doubts whether the committee can finish the draft in time for parliament to approve it by an Aug. 15 deadline.
The boycott was announced after two Sunnis helping to draft the charter were gunned down Tuesday and other members demanded that the government provide them with security and arrange an international inquiry into the killings. They also asked that Sunnis have a greater voice in drafting the charter, said Kamal Hamdoun, one of the 12 remaining Sunni committee members.
In other developments:
—Gunmen in Baghdad fired on a car carrying Czech police officers who provide security for Czech diplomats Thursday, but no injuries were reported, Czech Interior Ministry spokeswoman Radka Kovarova said Friday.
—Assailants shot to death three policemen Friday as they were directing traffic in eastern Baghdad. Three other police officers were killed and three wounded in two other attacks on patrols in the area.
—U.S. and Iraqi troops clashed Friday with militants in Samarra, leaving one Iraqi soldier and three civilians dead, police said.
—Two bullet-riddled bodies were found Friday near Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City, police said.