Iraq: Vehicle ban ordered in Baqouba following series of bomb attacks

Iraqi authorities ordered a vehicle ban in the volatile city of Baqouba on Friday in the wake of a series of deadly suicide bombings and other attacks by al-Qaida in Iraq against predominantly Sunni fighters that have allied with the United States. The ban also comes as the US military stepped up operations against al-Qaida cells and networks in Diyala province, of which Baqouba is the capital. The US military announced it had killed a senior al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Muhammad Khalil Ibrahim, during a Dec. 28 airstrike in Mahmoudiya, about 30 kilometers south of Baghdad, in an area known as the "Triangle of Death" just south of Baghdad. It identified Ibrahim as "the deputy military leader for the al-Qaida in Iraq network operating south of Baghdad." Baqouba police chief Brigadier Hasan al Obaidi said the ban was imposed because of the "increased violent events during last week." The ban in the city located 60 kilometers northeast of Baghdad also aimed to protect worshippers going to mosques for Friday prayers. It was to last until late afternoon.