At Least 34 Dead Dozens Wounded

At Least 34 Dead, Dozens Wounded
Guerilla Platoon Attacks Police in Baghdad
Bloody Shiite on Shiite Clashes in the South

Forty guerrillas in Baghdad launched a coordinated attack on police that included suicide bombings, killing 15 and wounding 56. It is always worrisome when you see a whole platoon of guerrillas operating openly in daylight in the capital. It appears that the guerrillas were targeting a visiting high level police commando from Samarra, but missed him.

In Samarra, guerrillas blew up the house of a police commando and executed one of his relatives. I’d guess this is the guy who was visiting Baghdad, and who was targeted there. I don’t know exactly what a “police commando” is, but I suspect he is actually a member of one of the elite Interior Ministry security forces, which have recruited especially from the Badr Corps, a Shiite militia.

In Baquba, guerrillas attacked three sites and killed 8.

As if the problems with the Sunni guerrilla movement weren’t serious enough, fighting broke out in six southern cities on Wednesday between followers of Muqtada al-Sadr and those of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

In Najaf, Sadrists attempted to reestablish a political office in the city, from which they were expelled by the US Marines last August. Angry crowds of Najafis gathered and attacked the infiltrating Sadrists. The crowd may have included Badr Corps fighters, the paramilitary of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a rival Shiite party. Sadrists are claiming that 8 persons were killed inside the new offices. Another report said that the building had been burned down. Dozens of persons suffered injuries.

Muqtada is threatening to pull the 20 members of parliament who are loyal to him from the national assembly. He is also threatening violence.

In Nasiriyah to the south, clashes between Sadrists and SCIRI left one person dead and 13 wounded.

In Amara, Sadrists occupied the SCIRI offices. When the police came to expel them, they clashed, and a policeman was killed.

There was also Sadrist/SCIRI violence in Basra, Hilla, Samawa and Diwaniyah.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari condemned the violence in Najaf and called for an end to the politics of the gun. He said that the attack on the Sadr offices was “unacceptable” and deplored violence in the holy city of Najaf. Al-Jazeerah says he is sending vice-premier Ahmad Chalabi to Najaf to calm the situation. Chalabi has a good relationship with Sadr and has a long working relationship with SCIRI from expatriate days when they were trying to overthrow Saddam.

Bayan Jabr, the Interior Minister, declared a curfew in Najaf and said he was sending security forces. But he is SCIRI and his intervention will be seen as supporting the Badr Corps against the Sadrists.