By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
March 30, 2007 – The general in charge of coalition military efforts in Iraq today condemned "barbaric actions" by al Qaeda elements in the wake of bombings in the northern city of Tal Afar that killed dozens of Iraqi civilians and injured scores of others. In a written statement issued by Multinational Force Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said the attacks are designed to divide the Iraqi people and draw attention away from the improving security situation in Iraq's capital.
"Al Qaeda in Iraq elements once again displayed their total disregard for human life, carrying out barbaric actions against innocent Iraqi citizens in an effort to reignite sectarian violence and to undermine recent Iraqi and coalition successes in improving security in Baghdad," Petraeus said in the statement.
"These horrific attacks demonstrated al Qaeda's complete rejection of respect for life itself, and the coalition joins Iraqi leaders in condemning these latest acts of cold-blooded murder," he said.
Today's statement is the second strong official reaction to the attack on a crowded marketplace from the top coalition command in Iraq. The day after the attack, Multinational Force Iraq released a statement that wasn't attributed to a specific official.
The March 28 statement called the attack a "cowardly and inhumane" and "another example of attempts by extremists to reignite violence between people who have lived in peace despite being from different sectarian and ethnic groups."
The statement called on Iraqi leaders and citizens to remain united, to reject violence, and to bring to justice those responsible for the Tal Afar attack.
A coalition military leader in northern Iraq also spoke out on March 28.
"This was an act of cowardice and only demonstrates to the world how desperate this enemy is," said Army Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, deputy commander of Task Force Lighting and Multinational Division North. "The Iraqi people must stand united against these forces so the country can continue on its path to a free and democratic state."
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