BAGHDAD, (Xinhua): At least 27 people were killed and 51 others wounded on Thursday evening when a bomb struck a cafe in the capital of Baghdad, police said.
The bombing attack took place at about 9:30 p.m. local time ( 1830 GMT) in Al Ameriyah neighborhood in west Baghdad, with children and women among those killed, a police source told Xinhua.
The cafe was located inside a small shopping building, which also contains clothes shops, Internet cafes and restaurants.
Violence has increased recently in the Iraqi cities as Iraqis are preparing for the provincial polls on Saturday to elect their provincial council members.
Earlier on Thursday, at least five people were killed, including a leader, in separate incidents in northern and central Iraq, while the security forces failed to hunt down the toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s deputy and head of now-outlawed Saddam’s Baath party.
Acting upon a tip, an Iraqi police raided the safe house of a suspected al-Qaida leader in the city of Mosul, some 400 km north of Baghdad, and shot him dead after a fierce clash, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The suspect believes to be the military leader (Amir) of al- Qaida group in Mosul, the source added.
In the meantime, the Iraqi security forces backed by helicopters surrounded the town of Dour in Salahudin province and carried out a manhunt after receiving intelligence reports which said that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri was in the town which located some 150 km north of Baghdad, a provincial police source anonymously told Xinhua.
“The security forces have received solid information Wednesday evening that Douri was in the town and the troops carried out operation to arrest him, but he wasn’t there,” the source said.
Iraqi and U.S. officials believe that Douri, 71, a former Baath official, played a key role in funding and organizing Sunni Arab insurgency that erupted in 2003 against the U.S.-led coalition and he was instrumental in forging links between remnants of the ousted government and Sunni Islamic militant groups.
In a separate incident, three suspected gunmen were killed while they were trying to transplant roadside bombs on a road near a village located north of Salahudin’s provincial capital of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, the source said.
Meanwhile, gunmen in a car opened fire on a fixed police foot patrol in Baghdad’s southern district of Baiyaa, leaving a policeman dead and two others wounded before they fled the scene, a police source said.
Also in the day, Iraqi security forces carried out an operation in some districts in the city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, and arrested seven suspects, four of whom are believed to be local leaders of al-Qaida group in the city, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The operation also resulted in the seizing of weapons fitted with silencers, 20 roadside bombs and several rockets, the source said.