In a rare statement against violence, al-Qaida in Iraq purportedly issued a statement today denying it was behind a horrific attack on a poor east Baghdad neighbourhood that killed 18 children and teenagers.
The authenticity of the statement on an Islamic website couldn’t be verified, but it suggests the militant group is aware of the possible backlash such an attack would have on its support base, which considers the insurgent groups who launch scores of deadly attacks in Iraq as resistance movements fighting a military occupation.
“We, al-Qaida organisation in Iraq, announce that we are not in the least responsible for the New Baghdad operation that took place Wednesday,” said a statement posted and signed by Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, al-Qaida spokesman.
“Our sheikh, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi … is very keen not to attack the rank and file and he himself is the one who directly supervises, plans and direct all the operations,” the statement said.
A suicide car bomb exploded next to a US Humvee where US troops were handing out sweets and toys to children from the New Baghdad area. At least 70 people were injured, including a newborn baby and three US soldiers.