As Iraq continues to muddle along with no new government all these months after the March 7 parliamentary elections, insurgents struck in the capital.
The London pan-Arab daily al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Sunday witnessed a series of massive bombings in Baghdad that left 160 dead or wounded, the worst toll since 17 August.
In al-Liqa’ quarter of the al-Mansur neighborhood in Sunni-dominated west Baghdad, a car bomb killed 21 persons and wounded 70 others. Seconds later, two car bombs were detonated simultaneously in Sahat Adan in the mostly Shiite quarter of Kadhimiya in north Baghdad, killing 19 and wounding 65. The bombing in al-Mansur appears to have targeted Asia Cell, a cellphone company; it destroyed an entire office building completely and inflicted severe damage on a neighboring edifice, as well as burning out 20 automobiles. The explosion in Sahat Adan sought to destroy a building used for security meetings. Residents blamed the police for exposing them to this danger by using a house in a residential area for this purpose, when they know they are a target for insurgents.
In addition, eight mortar shells were fired into the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad where government offices and the US and British embassies are situated, behind blast walls. Mortar shells were also fired at the Shiite shrine district of Kadhimiya.
Three roadside bombs were also set off in the capital. One near Rusafa wounded 7 persons. Sticky bombs were used to assassinate Awakening Council leader Mu’ayyad al-A’dhami in al-Ghazaliya and Foreign Ministry official and tribal leader Shaikh Salih al-‘Ulwani of the Al-Bu ‘Ulwan tribe.
An Iraqi official downplayed the day of violence in the capital, saying that over all, the number of violent attacks had fallen over the past 2 months. He criticized government officials who had spoken of a spike in attacks. But in fact, AFP notes that “Violence appears to have risen again across Iraq in recent months, with July and August recording two of the highest monthly death tolls since 2008, according to government figures.” (Of course, the number of attacks could have fallen even as the deadliness of those attacks that did take place increased)
Al-Hayat’s anonymous security official also insisted that all of Baghdad is under the authority of the government security forces, while the terrorists control no territory. He dismissed the mortaring of the Green Zone as a hit and run attack from a mobile base.
In Fallujah, once an insurgent stronghold, a suicide bomber in the center of the city killed 6 persons and wounded 14. The attack may have been retaliation for a joint Iraqi Army and US military sweep of the city center in search of an ‘al-Qaeda’ leader last Wednesday, in which a firefight broke out that left 7 civilians dead.
Although President Obama announced the formal end of US combat in Iraq for August 31, in fact US troops still pair with their Iraqi counterparts to carry active war-fighting, as at Fallujah last Wednesday. In Baqubah a week ago, the US provided helicopter gunship support to Iraqi army units fighting with Muslim extremists.
Meanwhile, Australian journalist Michael Ware says he has videotape of US soldiers committing a ‘small war crime’ by summarily killing an armed boy who was not an insurgent. The footage belongs to CNN, which declined to air it as ‘too graphic.’ Ware is suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome after nearly a decade of covering the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. He is known for challenging then Republican presidential hopeful John McCain’s overly rosy view of Iraq security in 2007.