Foreign forces blamed for terror in Iraq

At least 170 people have been killed in suicide bombings throughout Iraq in the past week. Iraqi clerics urge foreign forces to leave Iraq putting the blame for terrorist attacks on the presence of U.S. and its allies.

Gunmen killed three policemen and a government worker walking to work in Baghdad, officials said Monday. Insurgents in a car opened fire Monday on a police patrol in the eastern New Baghdad neighborhood of the capital, killing two policemen. In a separate attack in the same neighborhood, police Col. Alaa Hussein was killed near his home late Sunday, reports the AP.

On Sunday, Alaa Dawoud Salman, history professor at Basra University, a Sunni Muslim and a former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath party, was shot dead in the central neighborhood of Ashar. It was not clear if Salman's killing was linked to tensions between Iraq's Shiite and Sunni communities, says the AP.

Meanwhile, Iraq's special tribunal has laid the first formal charges against Saddam Hussein for crimes committed during his 25-year rule and a date for his trial may be announced "within days", the tribunal said on Sunday. Its chief investigating judge told a news conference in Baghdad that Saddam and three others had been charged with the killings of Shiite Muslims in the village of Dujail in 1982, reports Reuters.

Also on Sunday, four suicide car bombs killed 22 people, including an attack at the offices of Iraq's electoral commission that killed five election employees and one policeman. According to Reuters, a fuel truck bomb killed 98 people south of Baghdad Sunday. The overnight attack in the highway town of Musayyib was the most lethal since the Iraqi government took power in April and the second deadliest single bombing since the war began in 2003, says Reuters.

Iraq's most powerful Shiite clergyman, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is deeply upset by the upsurge in suicide attacks, said Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi, a top Shiite politician, after meeting with the cleric on Sunday. The cleric urged the government to protect the people in "this genocidal war," Abdul-Mahdi said.

In a BBC interview scheduled for broadcast Monday, radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said the continuing violence in Iraq was based in part on the presence of U.S. and other foreign forces.

"The occupation in itself is a problem," said al-Sadr, who led an uprising against U.S. forces last year. "Iraq not being independent is the problem. And the other problems stem from that - from sectarianism to civil war, the entire American presence causes this."

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