Friday, 25 February 2011

A suicide bomber strikes Ramadi killing at least eight

Iraqi authorities have said that a suicide bomber has killed at least eight people, commemorating the birth of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, in the western city of Ramadi. The attack also injured the deputy governor of Anbar province, Hikmet Khalaf, and killed several policemen.

Speaking about the attack Khalaf said:"We were in the middle of a ceremony to celebrate the anniversary of Prophet Muhammad's birthday when a male suicide bomber came to the door of the room and said 'God is great' and blew himself up."

The bombing occurred several hours after Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki called on the country to shun the planned mass protests on Friday 25th February. Al-Maliki said that militants, supporters of Saddam Hussein and members of the Al-Qa'ida may attempt to infiltrate the protests.

Addressing the nation on television al-Maliki said: "I call on you to be cautious and careful and stay away from this…Frankly speaking, they are planning to take advantage of tomorrow's demonstration for their own benefit.”

He went on to say that he did not object to peaceful protests, but added that "there are known factions... trying to jump on these legal demands and turn them in another direction that we certainly do not want."

The prime minister continued: “You can hold these demonstrations at any time or place you want, except for the place and time of a demonstration which Saddamists, terrorists and al-Qa'ida are behind…I am warning you about their plans, which are to change the course of [peaceful] rallies and protests, to... murder, riot, sabotage, hard-to-control strife, bombings."

The country's interior ministry has also warned the nation to be cautious, saying the militants may disguise themselves as security officials. The caution was seconded by two of Iraq's leading Shi'a clerics, Ayatollah Ali Sistani and Moqtada Sadr.

Sources: BBC News, AFP, Reuters, USA Today

For more news and expert analysis about Iraq, please see Iraq Focus.

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