2 US Troops Killed; 20 Injured in School Blast; Assassination Attempt Kills 18; Weekend Cult Casualty toll 278

On Tuesday morning in Iraq, a suicide bomber walked into a school in downtown Baquba and detonated his payload, killing a guard and wounding 20 students and teachers. Baquba, a city of 200,000, is the capital of the key Diyala Province that lies between Baghdad and Iran. It is a mixed province, some 60% Sunni Arab but with substantial Shiite and Kurdish populations. A Shiite provincial government and police rule the province.

See the last item today, below, for a horrific attack Monday on a school in a Diyala village, which appears to have destroyed it altogether.

A suicide bomber attempted to assassinate the security deputy of Salahuddin Province on Monday, blowing himself up inside a tent set up for a local wake, which the security official was attending. He escaped, but the bomb killed at least 18 and wounded 20 among the 70 mourners gathered on the occasion.

AP observes,

‘ the latest of a series of deadly attacks fast chipping away at the notion of a calmer Iraq. The bombing also gave credence to repeated assertions by the US military that the fight against Al-Qaeda in not over yet. Significantly, Monday’s bombing was the third in as many days to take place in Sunni areas thought to be have been largely rid of Al-Qaeda militants.’

Meanwhile, Patrick Cockburn of The Independent reports that 278 persons were killed or wounded in the millenarian uprising this wweekend in Basra and Nasiriya.

He observes,

‘ It is a measure of the lack of information on what is happening outside central Baghdad that casualty figures vary widely with one source claiming that 97 died and 217 were wounded in Basra alone. ‘

What is clear is that Iraq is extremely violent and unstable and that there is no discernible political progress.

Craig and Marc Kielburger have good suggestions on “How the Iraq war’s $2 trillion cost to U.S. could have been spent

Jonathan Steele at the Guardian is writing about how clueless the British government was as it went into southern Iraq in 2002 – 2003. They had not had an embassy in Baghdad since the Gulf War, and do not seem to have known who the Sadr ayatollahs were or how powerful the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq was (it likely planned and led the spring, 1991 insurrection that temporarily threw off Baath rule).

The series is here: “Guys I’m afraid we haven’t got a clue” and here: ‘Britain as inept as US’.

The Reuters reports other political violence on Monday, or announced on Monday.

‘ANBAR PROVINCE – A U.S. Marine was killed during combat operations in western Anbar province on Saturday, the U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD – One U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Arab Jabour on Baghdad’s southern outskirts, the U.S. military said. . . [This unfortunate death occurred despite the deployment of a heavily armored new vehicle, as the NYT explains here.

BAGHDAD – Three people were wounded by a roadside bomb which exploded after a U.S. patrol went by in eastern Baghdad’s Baladiyat district, police said. . .

QAIYARA – Two people were killed and nine wounded by a bomb in a parked car targeting an Iraqi army patrol in the town of Qaiyara near Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

NEAR FALLUJA – Gunmen killed four members of a U.S.-backed neighbourhood police patrol and wounded two others in an attack on a checkpoint near Falluja, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, police said. Two of the gunmen were killed when police at the checkpoint returned fire.

McClatchy adds:

‘ Baghdad

An IED exploded targeting a US convoy near al Nosoor square west Baghdad around 8,00 am. No casualties reported.

Around 8,15 am, two mortar shells hit Owereeg industrial area south Baghdad causing no casualties. . .

Two road side bombs (2 bottles filled with explosive materials) exploded near al Qubbanchi mosque in Harthyah neighborhood south Baghdad around 1,00 pm. No casualties reported.

Police found seven anonymous bodies in Baghdad today. . .

Sulaimaniyah

Gunmen killed attacked a house in Kalar village 140 kms south of Sulaimaniyah province yesterday night killing a 35 years old mother and her 13 years old daughter. . .

Diyala

Two policemen were wounded in an IED explosion that targeted their patrol in Muqdadiyah town east of Baquba city today afternoon.

Gunmen destroyed with explosives Mecca al Mukarrama primary school and a house in al Malali village, part of Wajihiyah district east of Baquba city today afternoon. The gunmen burnt also al-Malali mosque.’

The NYT profiles intrepid war blogger Michael Yon. It is nice to see his ‘citizen journalism’ recognized by the mainstream. (Isn’t that a fancy phrase for ‘blogger’?)

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