The most lethal attack was on Monday evening in Baquba, when a man wearing a suicide vest walked into a reconciliation meeting at a Shiite mosque in Shifta, a suburb of the provincial capital, and exploded his device as several hundred people drank tea after breaking the daylong Ramadan fast, according to an American military report.
The police chief, Brig. Ali Dlyan, was killed along with 11 other police officers, two of whom were senior commanders. There were differing accounts of the death toll, with the American military saying that 24 died and 37 were wounded and Diyala health officials saying they had received 18 bodies. The Baquba hospital reported receiving 27 with wounds.
The governor of Diyala Province, who was wounded in the attack, was saved from death by his bodyguards, who saw the bomber going toward the governor and threw themselves on top of him. All five of his bodyguards died and the governor had to be dragged from underneath them, said a provincial official in Diyala who rushed to the scene to help with the rescue. He requested anonymity for fear of becoming a target.
A confrontation between the U.S. military and the State Department is unfolding over the involvement of Blackwater USA in the shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square Sept. 16, bringing to the surface long-simmering tensions between the military and private security companies in Iraq, according to U.S. military and government officials.
In high-level meetings over the past several days, U.S. military officials have pressed State Department officials to assert more control over Blackwater, which operates under the department's authority, said a U.S. government official with knowledge of the discussions. "The military is very sensitive to its relationship that they've built with the Iraqis being altered or even severely degraded by actions such as this event," the official said.
Anger in Baghdad has been growing over private security guards, who often travel in armored SUVs. (By Hadi Mizban -- Associated Press)
"This is a nightmare," said a senior U.S. military official. "We had guys who saw the aftermath, and it was very bad. This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib, and it comes at a time when we're trying to have an impact for the long term." The official was referring to the prison scandal that emerged in 2004 in which U.S. soldiers tortured and abused Iraqis.