159 Killed or Wounded in Massive Mosul Blast; Dems take on Bush over Iraq SOFA

Guerrillas were stockpiling munitions in an unoccupied building in the Zanjabili district near the Houston-sized northern city of Mosul. Someone informed the Iraqi security forces of the stockpile, and apparently the guerrillas had good intelligence on such things, so they blew up the arms warehouse to deny it to their foes. It blasted surrounding apartment buildings, killing 17 persons and wounding 132, including women and children. It reverberated through the city as no explosion ever had before. The casualty toll is likely to rise, since there were still people trapped under rubble at the site of the massive explosion.

[What amazes me is that at this late date, the guerrillas still have enormous munitions stockpiles of which the US and the Iraqi government remain ignorant.]

According to al-Bawaba and AP, at Tuz Khurmato, half hour drive outside the northern oil city of Kirkuk, a car bomber killed 7 and wounded 16.

In Baghdad itself, guerrillas attacked an army checkpoint in Bab al-Mudham, east of the Tigris, killing 7 soldiers and wounding 2.

Al-Bawaba adds: “Meanwhile, at least six members of an Iraqi family died in the city of Baquba, reports said Wednesday. The independent Iraqi news agency Voices of Iraq said suspected members of the al-Qaeda network attacked the house in the Behrez area, south of Baquba. They kidnapped the Iraqi civilian and five other members of his family. Security sources later found their corpses in a nearby district, the news agency said. “

The Democrats in Congress are mobilizing to stop Bush from concluding a security agreement with the Iraqi government that may tie the hands of the next president. They insist that any such agreement must pass through Congress. The White House appears to view the pact as a mere Status of Forces Agreement, and such SOFAs are typically concluded by the executive. Congress is interpreting the agreement not as a SOFA but as a mutual security treaty, which would require congressional approval.

Ironically, many in the Iraqi parliament are also upset that PM Nuri al-Maliki may initial the agreement without consulting them.

The real news is that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit Baghdad. After the long, gruelling Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, this is the first such high-level from Tehran to Baghdad. Prime ministers Ibrahim Jaafari and Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq have visited Iran.

The news satire is, “In other news, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger surfaced in Baghdad, today, insisting that he was going to introduce Ahmadinejad before the Iraqi parliament. He warned the parliamentarians not to get in his way, or they would be in for quote ‘such a tongue-lashing’ unquote.”

McClatchy reports other political violence in Iraq on Thursday:

‘ Baghdad

- Around 9 a.m., a roadside bomb exploded at Mansour neighborhood ( west Baghdad) at district 605. Some commercial shops damaged in that incident with no casualties recorded.

- Around 12 p.m., gunmen opened fire on an army check point . . . [see above].

- Around 12.30, a roadside bomb exploded at Zafaraniyah neighborhood (south Baghdad). No casualties reported.

- Around 3 p.m., gunmen assassinated the dean of Dental medicine, Munthir Ridha, at University of Baghdad.

- Police found ( 4 ) unidentified dead bodies . . .

Mosul

- Tuesday evening, gunmen assassinated Ali Suleiman Mohammad, a lecturer at Mosul university on his way home from a mosque to Wihda neighborhood in downtown Mosul .

- Tuesday , a squad of the Iraqi army killed a gunman in Mosul city and confiscated his car. . .

Diyala

- Wednesday afternoon, a roadside bomb targeted AlHay neighborhood ( downtown Baquba) near one of the quarters of the Sahwa [Awakening]council injuring two members of the Sahwa .

Kirkuk – Tuesday evening, a roadside bomb targeted the head of Kirkuk police operation centre, Colonel Yadgar Shukr Abdu Allah . . .

Basra

- Around 7 p.m., gunmen kidnapped an engineer ( Ali Mahmood ) from his house at the Basra international camp ( north west Basra), police said.