BAGHDAD (AFP) – A US commander on Wednesday said the number of “spectacular” assaults by Al-Qaeda in Iraq has increased although the overall number of attacks was down and 20 key militants have been killed or caught.ADVERTISEMENT
Major General Mark Hertling, commanding general of coalition forces in northern Iraq, gave no specific examples of what he termed “spectacular” attacks, referring only to big car bombs and to suicide attacks.
“These spectacular events and intimidation are designed to incite fear in the population,” Hertling told a news conference in Baghdad.
Suicide bombers have continued to carry out bloody attacks in recent weeks, with one killing 25 people and wounding 85 on Christmas Day, when he slammed his vehicle into a truck carrying gas cylinders at a checkpoint in the northern oil town of Baiji.
The same month, a woman suicide bomber killed 16 people in the offices of a local anti-Qaeda front in Muqdadiyah, in Diyala province, while another bomber killed 13 people inside a cafe near the Diyala provincial capital Baquba.
None of the recent attacks, however, has brought the sort of death tolls seen in 2006 and earlier in 2007 when the numbers killed could exceed 100, and the general’s definition of spectacular was unclear.
Several members or leaders of “Awakening” groups — local men paid by the US to fight Al-Qaeda — have also been killed recently.
American commanders in Iraq are urging Pentagon chiefs to authorise the deployment of newly-developed heat wave guns to disperse angry crowds or violent rioters.
In pictures: How I was zapped by a heat wave gun
But the plea for what senior army officers believe could prove a valuable alternative to traditional firepower in dangerous trouble-spots has so far gone unanswered.
|The ADS can target crowds from 750 metres away
Washington fears a barrage of adverse publicity in the suspicious Muslim world and is concerned that critics will claim the invisible beam weapons were being used for torture.
Now the US military directorate charged with developing non-lethal weapons, which has invested more than a decade developing the Active Denial System (ADS), has launched a concerted effort to convince both the public and its own bosses at the defence department of the device’s merits.
“With brand new technology like this, perception is everything,” said Col Kirk Hymes, a former Marine artillery officer who heads the directorate.
Sunday September 30, 2007
John Bolton: ‘I think we have to look at a limited strike against their nuclear facilities.’ Photograph Win McNamee/Getty Images.
John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, told Tory delegates today that efforts by the UK and the EU to negotiate with Iran had failed and that he saw no alternative to a pre-emptive strike on suspected nuclear facilities in the country.Mr Bolton, who was addressing a fringe meeting organised by Lord (Michael) Ancram, said that the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was “pushing out” and “is not receiving adequate push-back” from the west.
Blackwater involved in Rendition flights.
This flight was spotted landing at a UK airport – proof that ‘rendition ‘ flights are still taking place
By GLEN OWEN
The row over CIA ‘torture flights’ using British airports has deepened following fresh evidence that a plane repeatedly linked to the controversial programme landed in the UK just days ago.
The plane was logged arriving at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk last weekend, and watching aviation experts said the aircraft, piloted by crew clad in desert fatigues, was immediately surrounded on the runway by armed American security forces.
Its registration number, clearly visible on the fuselage, identifies it as a plane which the European Parliament says has been involved in ‘ghost flights’ to smuggle terrorist suspects to shadowy interrogation centres abroad. Records show the plane is owned by Blackwater USA, a CIA contractor described as ‘the most secretive and powerful mercenary army on the planet’. An eyewitness, who previously worked as an RAF electronic warfare expert, said that as the plane – a CASA-212 Aviocar – taxied to a stop on the runway it was met by a US military Humvee.