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Tuesday, May 4, 2010     GET REAL

Checkpoints are back as Iraq cope with new suicide terror campaign

BAGHDAD — Iraq has restored tight security measures amid a suicide bombing campaign by Al Qaida.


The Iraqi Interior Ministry has ordered the return of checkpoints throughout Baghdad, the target of the Al Qaida network. The ministry has also assigned reinforcements to inspect cars and pedestrians near critical facilities, government buildings and other sites.

"The government adopted a series of security measures to prevent the deteriorating security situation, including army and police inspections," Ali Al Musawi, spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, said.

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Officials said the return of the checkpoints and other measures came in late April amid a series of mass-casualty suicide bombings in Baghdad. They said the Defense Ministry and Interior Ministry determined that the AQI strikes were threatening the stability of the capital as well as other parts of the country.

Police and army troops have returned to manual inspection of cars and pedestrians at Baghdad checkpoints. Officials said wand-like bomb detectors procured from a British company in 2008 were replaced after they were deemed ineffective.

"The security forces discovered belatedly that the explosive detectors failed to perform its task, and that car bombs were crossing checkpoints," Iraqi security analyst Salim Jalil said.

Jalil said security forces have been ordered to thoroughly check cars and trucks that enter Baghdad. He said this has sparked huge traffic jams around the capital.

The Interior Ministry has also been deploying special operation forces to stop AQI bombings. The black-clad troops have been used to patrol Shi'ite neighborhoods, a key target of Al Qaida.

"All the security forces on the streets belong to the police or the army," Al Musawi said. "There are no other security apparatuses."

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