Anti-al-Qaida leader escapes assassination in Baghdad

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BAGHDAD -- A prominent militia leader opposed to al-Qaida escaped an assassination attempt in Baghdad Monday that killed six of his body guards and one civilian and wounded eight people, authorities said. And a Turkish diplomat avoided injury when a roadside bomb exploded as he traveled in a convoy in the northern city of Mosul.

No one was hurt in the bomb blast that damaged one of the vehicles in the convoy of Ozturk Yilmaz, who heads the Turkish consulate in Mosul, said a police official and a consulate official who both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Turkey and Iraq have tense relations because Turkey gave refuge to former Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi after the Sunni political leader was sentenced to death after being convicted of ordering assassinations of government officials and security forces. Turkey has also angered Iraqi central government officials by bypassing them to make energy deals with Kurdish authorities in their autonomous northern region.

Seven more people were killed and 15 wounded Monday in separate bouts of violence in Baghdad and another Iraqi city as the country reels from waves of sectarian attacks.

Two suicide bombers attacked the motorcade of Wisam al-Hardan, the militia leader, near his house in Baghdad's western Harthiyah neighborhood. But the Sunni tribal sheik was not injured, said Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan.

Mr. Hardan was recently appointed by the Iraqi prime minister to lead the Sunni militia known as Sahwa, which joined U.S. troops in the war against al-Qaida at the height of Iraq war. Ever since, it has been a target for Sunni insurgents who consider them traitors.

Most attacks on civilians and security forces in recent years have been the work of Sunni extremist groups such as al-Qaida. But attacks on Sunni targets have been on the rise in recent months, raising fears that armed Shiite groups are starting to retaliate.

Violence in Iraq has intensified since April to levels not seen since 2008. More than 4,000 people have been killed over the past five months alone, including more than 800 in August, according to figures provided by the UN mission in Iraq.

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