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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Iraq to launch huge Baghdad raids
Members of the Interior Ministry Wolf Brigade Special Forces go out on patrol in Baghdad
Iraq's security forces face daily attacks from insurgents
More than 40,000 Iraqi soldiers are to be deployed in Baghdad in a massive operation to hunt down insurgents, the Iraqi defence minister has announced.

Saadoun al-Dulaimi said the force would include troops from the interior and defence ministries.

But there are concerns that deploying extra troops could provide more targets for suicide bombers.

Meanwhile a total of eight people including a senior official died in a car bomb and two shootings in the city.

Thamer Ghaidan, who works in the Iraqi ministry of industry and minerals, was killed by insurgents in a drive-by shooting as he was shopping.

Areas of operation

Correspondents say the planned anti-insurgency operation, due to start as early as next week, would be by far the largest staged in Baghdad by Iraqi forces.

We will also impose a concrete blockade around Baghdad, like a bracelet around an arm, God willing - no-one will be able to penetrate this blockade
Saadoun al-Dulaimi
Iraqi Defence Minister

Insurgent attacks on US, Iraqi government and civilian targets have killed about 600 people in May.

The BBC's Alistair Leithead in Baghdad says that the huge increase in attacks is pressuring the new government, which desperately needs to be seen to be in control of the capital.

Mr Dulaimi said the capital would be split into seven areas of operation, and warned that security measures would be far more strict than had been seen before.

"We will also impose a concrete blockade around Baghdad, like a bracelet around an arm, God willing. No-one will be able to penetrate this blockade," Mr Dulaimi said.

It is also hoped that mobile checkpoints will stop suicide bombers getting to the markets and the busy streets, where many people have been killed.

A former adviser to the Interior Ministry told the BBC it could have an impact, but the key to stopping the insurgents was good intelligence, including knowing where the bombers were based and their ultimate objectives.

Divided loyalties within the intelligence services were making the job even more difficult, he added.

Iraqi officials say the operation in Baghdad will be the first phase of a security crackdown that could eventually cover the whole country.

Interior Minister Baqir Solagh said: "These operations will aim to turn the government's role [in dealing with the insurgency] from defensive to offensive."

Attack on patrol

The attacks in Baghdad included a car bomb which targeted a police patrol, killing three Iraqis and injuring two.

In another attack, a university lecturer and three passengers in his car were killed in a drive-by shooting in the capital's southern Aalam district.

In a separate incident, a US military convoy was attacked in central Baghdad. One vehicle caught fire, but details of casualties are not known.

An Iraqi child was also killed during fighting between US forces and insurgents in the north-western city of Talafar, the US military said.

"When multinational forces engaged the terrorists, the terrorists used Iraqi children as shields. One child was killed as a result of their action," the US military said in a statement, without specifying who killed the child nor how it had died.

And in Qadissiya, in southern Baghdad, police said a member of the Shia Muslim Dawa party was found dead with his throat slit.



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