Search for Missing Soldiers Continues
May 24, 2007 8:34 a.m.
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki asked Parliament Thursday to approve six new cabinet members to replace a group which resigned last month on the orders of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr.
Meanwhile, a car bomb targeting a funeral procession in Fallujah killed at least 21 people and thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops continued the search for two missing U.S. soldiers a day after the body of a third was pulled from a river.
In Parliament, Mr. Maliki thanked Mr. Sadr for giving him the "authority to choose the ministers." He told the chamber, which will decide in a vote Sunday, that all six were independent "not because we have something against parties, but we were keen on their being independent because that was one of the conditions put for the selection."
Mr. Maliki was upset because there weren't enough legislators to approve his choices on the spot, and was instead forced to delay the vote by three days. He admitted that he took a long time in choosing them, but said it was the result of the time needed to review the candidates' history. Describing them as technocrats, he said none had any record of corruption.
He also announced a future cabinet shuffle, but said he hadn't yet received any proposals for candidates from the parties that make up his government. "Some blocs want to change their ministers, and some ministers we want to change. It is not a shame to talk about a cabinet reshuffle because we seek the best," Mr. Maliki said.
The new six candidates included a woman, Khiloud Sami, who has been proposed for the post of state minister for provincial affairs. The others are Sabah Rasoul for the Health Ministry, Ali al-Bahadli for agriculture, Amir Abdul-Jabbar for transportation, Thamir Jafar al-Zubaidi for the Civil Society Ministry, and Zuhair Mohammed Ali Sharba for the Tourism and Antiquity Ministry.
Meanwhile, the military Wednesday confirmed that the body found a day earlier in the Euphrates River south of Baghdad was Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., who had been missing since militants ambushed his unit nearly two weeks ago. A commanding officer identified the remains, but DNA tests were still pending, military officials told Mr. Anzack's family. "We can confirm that we have recovered the remains of Pfc. Anzack," military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Josslyn Aberle said.
Pfc. Anzack, 20, vanished along with the two other soldiers after their combat team was ambushed May 12 about 20 miles outside Baghdad. The attack triggered a massive search operation in the area south of Baghdad known as the triangle of death for the insurgent activity there.
In Fallujah, a parked car bomb exploded during a funeral procession for Alaa Zuwaid, a 60-year-old restaurant owner who worked against al Qaeda in Iraq. The blast killed 21 people and wounded 50 others, police and medical officials said. Mr. Zuwaid was killed earlier Thursday morning when unknown militants shot him in front of his house, police said. His 25-year-old son was killed by militants nearly a month ago as he walked down the street.
Copyright © 2007 Associated Press