The violence is the latest in a series of attacks in recent weeks claimed by, or attributed to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
, a largely homegrown Sunni militant organization.
A major article for Friday's New York Times carried the online headline, "Bush Distorts Qaeda Links." Reporters Michael Gordon (from Iraq) and Jim Rutenberg (in Washington) lay bare the president's recent, and unproven, charges that al-Qaeda is now dominating the insurgency in Iraq, adding that "his references to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
, and his assertions that it is the same group that attacked the United States in 2001, have greatly oversimplified the nature of the insurgency in Iraq and its relationship with the Qaeda leadership."
A few days after Mureille blew herself up, US authorities in Baghdad said her husband was killed in a US Special Forces assault on a safe house run by a faction of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
, the group blamed for most of the suicide attacks in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion.
No group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which resembled previous assaults attributed to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
or an affiliated group, the Islamic State of Iraq.
Militant Sunni groups like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
, which often uses suicide bombs, have made a stand in the area after being driven out of most of the rest of Iraq.
Odierno, the second-ranking American commander in Iraq, told reporters that leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
had been alerted to the Baquba offensive by widespread public discussion of the American plan to clear the city before the attack began.
But the restaurant is in an area where Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
- a largely Iraqi insurgent group which American intelligence officials say has foreign leadership - has been active.
The bodies were believed to be those of Iraqi Army recruits from Karbala who were killed by gunmen from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
. In Diyala Province this week, Iraqi security forces raided the homes of Sunni Awakening movement leaders, and made several arrests.
News of the movement on the security agreement came on a day when the American military announced that its soldiers had killed the second in command of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
who directed the group's operations in northern Iraq, the area of the country that remains the most troubled by extremist Sunni insurgents.
The US military confirmed there was an incident of "mistaken fire" between US and Iraqi forces while the US-led coalition was conducting an operation in the area against suspected militants from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
, the homegrown extremists that US intelligence agencies say are foreign-led.
The arrival of the 30,000 extra soldiers, deployed to Baghdad's neighborhoods around the clock, allowed the Americans to exploit a series of momentous events that had begun to unfold at roughly the same time: the splintering of Moktada al-Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army; the growing competence of the Iraqi Army; and most important, the about-face by leaders of the country's Sunni minority, who suddenly stopped opposing the Americans and joined with them against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
and other local extremist groups.
The area where the attack occurred is a former stronghold of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia
that has seen a steep drop in violence since Sunnis joined forces with the US military against the terror network.