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Posted: 01 Jan 05, 18:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Written by Agencies

Friday, 31 December 2004

osul election staff quit en masse

The entire staff of the independent electoral commission in the Iraqi
northern city of Mosul, amounting to about 700 employees, have resigned amid
growing violence in the country.

Staff members said on Thursday their resignation followed threats they
received in the past few days. The withdrawal of the Iraqi Islamic Party
from the election also figured in their decision, sources learned.

In a related move that could affect the 30 January elections, Shia
leader Muqtada al-Sadr's political office announced it was taking legal
action against the interim Iraqi government for alleged torture and murder
of its members.

Fadhil al-Shara, an al-Sadr official, said the legal action focused on
the Iraqi police in Hilla, who are alleged to have arrested 15 al-Sadr
supporters in the town and tortured another four to death.

Mortar attack

On Thursday, violence raged unabated throughout Iraq. In the southern
town of Amara, an explosive device hit a British convoy and damaged one of
its vehicles.

The blast occurred in front of the headquarters of the British forces,
which earlier came under a mortar attack from unidentified fighters.

In Mosul, a car bomb detonated as a US military convoy passed the
western al-Yarmuk neighbourhood.

Mosul has witnessed intense fighting in recent days, with the US
military announcing that a daylight assault on one of its compounds had
resulted in the deaths of 25 Iraqi fighters and one US soldier.

Fifteen US soldiers were also wounded in the attack.

Other incidents

Also on Thursday, in Baiji, four Iraqis thought to have been working
with US forces, were found killed inside their car while another Iraqi was
killed by US fire in the Siniya neighbourhood, north of the town.

In al-Muatasim neighbourhood, south of the town of Samarra, US forces
killed two Iraqis and wounded a third.

A US Humvee vehicle was destroyed when an explosive device detonated
in the same town.

In Baghdad, two trucks transporting supplies to the US army were
destroyed on the highway leading to Baghdad's international airport.

In yet another incident, this one in Hiyt, US forces raided the tomb
of Abd Allah Mubarak and arrested four of the guards.

Oil refinery attacked

Late on Thursday, a mortar strike set fire to Baghdad's Dura oil
refinery, an interior ministry official said.

Baghdad firemen were struggling to put out the blaze and called for
help at the refinery in the southwestern Baghdad suburb, the official said.

"We cannot stop the fire so we called other fire departments from
outside Baghdad," the official said.

The attack occurred at 10pm (1900 GMT), the official said.

The Dura refinery is also home to Baghdad's main power plant.

The refinery provides fuel for the plant, which provides electricity
for most of Baghdad and outlying areas.

It was not immediately clear if the fire had affected the power plant.

In Baghdad and much of Iraq, electricity is erratic, with households
enjoying power sometimes for as little as three hours a day.