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Two suicide bombers killed about 30 people and wounded 50 today near the city hall in Hillah
Today's attack comes as 40,000 members of Iraq's security forces begin an operation against insurgents in Baghdad, the biggest Iraqi-led offensive yet. The insurgency has left almost 700 people dead since the cabinet of Prime Minister Ibrahim al- Jaafari was announced a month ago, informs Bloomberg. Al-Jaafari, from the majority Shiite Muslim community, has tried to lessen sectarian violence by reaching out to the Sunni Muslim minority, whose members largely boycotted the Jan. 30 vote for a National Assembly. That effort may have been set back today when U.S. forces detained the leader of the largest Sunni political party before determining his arrest was a ``mistake.'' Meanwhile, U.S. forces briefly detained a Sunni political leader on the second day of an Iraqi-led security sweep in the capital. Mohsen Abdul-Hamid, head of Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political party and short-time president of the now-dissolved U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council, was taken from his home in western Baghdad at about 6 a.m. today by military forces, party officials said. The U.S. military later confirmed it had mistakenly arrested Abdul-Hamid, questioned him and released him shortly after. "Following the interview it was determined that he was detained by mistake and should be released," the military said in a statement. "Coalition forces regret any inconvenience and acknowledge (Abdul-Hamid's) cooperation in resolving this matter." The arrest came a day after Iraqi forces launched an anti-insurgent offensive in Baghdad that Abdul-Hamid's party opposes, believing security forces will trample on innocent people's rights. The two bombers struck shortly after 9 a.m. in Hillah, 60 miles south of the capital, wading into a crowd of about 500 police officers who were demonstrating outside the Mayor's Office to protest a government decision to disband their special forces unit, police Capt. Muthana Khalid Ali said. The bombers staggered the detonations to maximize casualties, said Col. Adnan Abdul Rahman, who was contacted by telephone in Baghdad. Police Officer Jiwad Kadhim Hamid said the explosions took place about 100 yards away from each other and about a minute apart, publishes Albuquerque Tribune
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