BAGHDAD — The Iraqi government on Monday suspended a massive military operation in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, offering a limited amnesty to insurgents who surrender by the end of the week.
"It's a very clear message to the insurgents that there will be no other chance," Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Kareem Khalaf said.
An hour after the announcement, a woman wearing a suicide vest blew herself up near a police station in the provincial capital of Baqouba, injuring 13 policemen and killing one. Earlier in the day, a roadside bomb killed five women who'd been on their way into the city to buy vegetables.
More than 600 suspected insurgents, including at least 10 leaders of al Qaida in Iraq, have been arrested since Operation Glad Tidings began late last month, with about 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen deploying in and around Baqouba before fanning out to remote hilly regions.
Diyala, an ethnically and religiously mixed farming region that borders Iran, has seen some of the worst sectarian violence of the war. The predominantly Sunni Muslim al Qaida in Iraq declared its Islamic State of Iraq there in 2006 and forced out or killed many Shiite Muslims; fighting continues between that group and the Sunni and Shiite neighborhood guard hired by the U.S. military.
Security forces encountered little resistance as Glad Tidings began, but in the last week insurgents have carried out at least two attacks on policemen, killing one and injuring two.
On Sunday, a car bomb in Khanaqin, northeast of Baqouba, killed three people and injured more than 20, including some members of the Asayish, the Kurdish security force.
The amnesty offer doesn't extend to insurgents who have killed Iraqis, Khalaf said.
(Spangler reports for The Miami Herald. A McClatchy special correspondent in Baqouba, who can't be identified for security reasons, contributed to this article.)