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In Iraq, Violence Again Rises During Ramadan

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

The Bush administration is asking for an additional $190 billion for the war in Iraq. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made that request on Capitol Hill today. We'll hear about it in a minute. First to Baghdad.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Sunni insurgents have stepped up their attacks there since the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began two weeks ago just as they've done in past years. This year, they are targeting key Sunni tribal leaders who've agreed to cooperate with the U.S. military.

NPR's Jamie Tarabay is in Baghdad.

JAMIE TARABAY: The target of the latest attack - a truck bombing - was Sheikh Kanan al-Juhaimur, who is attending a tribal gathering today in Sinjar in northwestern Iraq. Across Baghdad and in the northern parts of the country where Sunni insurgents still operate, the list of Sunni tribal sheikhs, police officers and other senior officials slain by al-Qaida and its allies is growing longer and longer.

The list began with the assassination of Anbar Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, killed on the first day of Ramadan. It was Abu Risha who launched the movement against al-Qaida and Iraq among Iraq Sunnis. At the time of his killing, insurgent groups published Internet statements, claiming to have formed special committees to hunt down and kill people they considered traitors. Since then, a suicide bomber at a tribal gathering in Diyala killed the head of that province's largest tribe. In west Baghdad, the U.S. military says at least 30 people affiliated with the movement opposed to al-Qaida have been killed.

Today, American military spokesman Major General Kevin Bergner acknowledged that insurgent attacks have increased since Ramadan began and could escalate further.

Jamie Tarabay, NPR News, Baghdad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jamie Tarabay
After reporting from Iraq for two years as NPR's Baghdad Bureau Chief, Jamie Tarabay is now embarking on a two year project reporting on America's Muslims. The coverage will take in the country's approx 6 million Muslims, of different ethnic, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and the issues facing their daily lives as Americans.