As Baghdad residents prepare for new security measures they hope will reduce the capital's chaotic violence, attacks continued elsewhere in the country. Officials say a suicide truck bombing in Tikrit Sunday killed at least 15 people, and eight border guard recruits were reported gunned down near the Syrian border. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from northern Iraq.
U.S. and Iraqi forces in Baghdad are increasing joint patrols, and setting up new checkpoints, but Iraqi officials say the city's new security operation still has not been fully implemented. Iraq's Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, and its Shi'ite prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, told reporters that the security plan will be applied equally across the capital city's religiously divided neighborhoods. Prime Minister Maliki dismissed news reports that the plan had already started in one predominantly Sunni neighborhood.
He says, "It will never start from one neighborhood - it will start for all of Baghdad at the same time." He says, "Do not listen to those who say that it started from this or that kind of neighborhood."
As part of the increased security, the U.S. military reported that Iraqi and U.S. forces conducted 7,400 patrols in Baghdad this week, uncovering 14 weapons stockpiles and detaining about 140 suspected insurgents. U.S. officials also reported they continue to build fortified combat outposts in the middle of Baghdad's most violent neighborhoods.
Outside Baghdad, Iraqi police say they plan to increase checkpoints to stop insurgents who may flee the city's security crackdown. Sherkou Shakir, a police commander in Kirkuk, 250 kilometers north of Baghdad, says his forces plan to guard the highway from Baghdad.
He says, "all of us together support this plan to face these armed groups." Iraqis forced to flee sectarian violence in their Baghdad neighborhoods are hoping that the operation will help them return. This Shi'ite woman said she left Baghdad after insurgents came to her home and threatened her.
She says, "I hope to go back home and to see my neighbors, who I have known for a long time. I pray that the plan will help all families go back home in peace."
Meanwhile, at a news briefing in Baghdad, a senior U.S. defense official, who spoke with reporters on condition his name not be used, said increasingly sophisticated bombs were sent to Iraqi extremists from Iran. He said intelligence analysts believe the weapons are manufactured in Iran and smuggled into Iraq on orders from the Iranian government. He did not elaborate.