Bomber Kills 18, Wounds 64; Archbishop Found Dead; Mahdi Army at Kut Shells US Base

A suicide bomber in a BMW killed 18 Iraqis in Baghdad on Thursday and wounded 64.

With regard to yet another tragedy on Thursday, The Guardian writes,

‘ Iraq’s unending violence claimed one of its most high-profile victims yesterday when a Catholic archbishop abducted last month was found dead.

It was not clear if Paulos Faraj Rahho, 65, of the Chaldean church, Iraq’s largest Christian community, had died as a result of poor health or was killed by his captors. His decomposing body was discovered half-buried in a shallow grave in the northern city of Mosul. The Pope immediately condemned the death as “an act of inhuman violence that offends the dignity of the human being”, the Vatican said.

“I cry for Iraq,” said Shlemon Warduni, the bishop of Baghdad. “I have no other feelings. We were brothers, now we are divided.” ‘

It is estimated that the violence kicked off by Bush’s invasion of Iraq has displaced 400,000 of the estimated 800,000 indigenous Iraqi Christians to Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere. Today’s news is horrible, and my condolences to my Chaldean readers, indeed to all my readers who care about human rights. The pope’s statement is apposite.

Fighting broke out Tuesday and into Wednesday night at Kut in southern Iraq between Mahdi Army militiamen and Iraqi and US troops. Late Wednesday the militiament subjected the US base to mortar fire. Likely, the local commanders are defying titular leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who ordered another 6-month freeze on militia activities last month.

Major -Gen. John Kelley, in command of US troops in al-Anbar, correctly said on Thursday that new provincial elections need to be held tout de suite in the Sunni Arab provinces. The Sunnis boycotted the only provincial elections so far held, in late January, 2005, and so do not have representative governments. In al-Anbar, the ruling Iraqi Islamic Party got 2% of the vote, but often doles out government jobs to its party members and excludes others. In Sunni-majority Diyala, the Shiite Supreme Council is in charge! I made this point in The Nation last year.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani seems to agree.

A Pentagon report says 4 key oil laws are stalled in the Iraqi parliament.

Tom Engelhardt of Tomdispatch.com imagines the 6th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, next year this time.

And, Michael Klare on the permanent energy crisis.

Fred Kaplan at Slate on why Admiral Fallon resigned as CENTCOM commander; it was not about Iran.

McClatchy reports political violence in Iraq for Thursday:

‘ Baghdad

5 civilians were wounded when an IED exploded near the local marketplace in al-Shurta al-Khamisa area at around 9 this morning.

Mortar rounds hit the Green Zone this morning at 11.15. No casualties were reported. The US Military do not generally comment on indirect fire. . .

3 unidentified bodies were found in Baghdad by Iraqi Police today. . .

Qasim al-Oqabi, a media assistant in al-Mowatin local newspaper, still a freshman in College of Journalism, was gunned down near the National Theater, central Baghdad by gunmen using a pistol with a silencer at around seven am, Thursday.

A roadside bomb targeted a US military convoy on Qanat Street, near al-Amin neighbourhood, east Baghdad at around 11 am today and no casualties were reported, said Iraqi Police. The US military have not confirmed the incident.

Diyala

1 civilian was killed by gunmen near al-Farouq Mosque, central Baquba this morning.

Salahuddin

Gunmen killed 3 Sahwa (Awakening Councils) members and kidnapped 4 from a location close to al-Hajaj village, 25 km to the north of Tikrit early this morning.

1 policeman killed and 2 Sahwa members injured by an attack by gunmen in west Tikrit this morning.

Gunmen attack a checkpoint manned by Support Forces of Baiji and kidnap 4 on the highway between Baiji and Tikrit at dawn today.

Kirkuk

A suicide bomber detonated this afternoon in Zab district, west Kirkuk killing 3 civilians, injuring 7.

One civilian killed and 10 injured when a car bomb exploded on the highway between Kirkuk city and al-Rashad district, to the west of Kirkuk. . .

3 Iraqi Army soldiers were injured when an IED exploded targeting their patrol in al-Farha village, Tuz Khormatu district, south Kirkuk at 8.10 this morning. Their vehicle was completely destroyed. . .’

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