Day of Rage in Iraq: 3 US Soldiers Dead, 5 Wounded, 9 Police killed in Truck Bombing
Guerrillas ambushed a routine US patrol in the slums of East Baghdad late Thursday night, killing two US soldiers and wounding four others. I believe these are the first US soldiers killed in Sadr City, a radical Shiite area that is patrolled by the militiamen of the Army of the Mahdi, who are loyal to the young Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr.
Meanwhile, two suicide truck bombers rammed into another vehicle at the gate of a police station in the slums of East Baghdad, setting off a huge explosion that killed 9 Iraqi policemen. The police, ominously, blamed the attack on the prayer leader of the al-Muhsin Mosque, who had threatened them. The al-Muhsin Mosque is a stronghold of the radical Shiite Sadr movement, and Sadrist clerics such as Shaikh Kadhim `Ibadi al-Nasiri preach there. The Sadrists are upset that former Baath police are still employed at the new police station; they also suspect the police of holding Moayad al-Khazraji, a Sadrist cleric arrested by the Americans for arms stockpiling last Tuesday. The police vowed revenge on the prayer leader at al-Muhsin mosque, which could signal a very nasty battle and the further radicalization of the ghetto Shiites in Sadr City. That these events were followed by the ambush on the US troops is extremely ominous.
However, the possibility that Saddam loyalists acting as provocateurs are behind the violence in East Baghdad, and hoping to provoke a US war with the Shiites, cannot be dismissed. That one assassin of the Spanish spy killed on Thursday morning was dressed in Shiite clerical garb shows that the Baathists are attempting to implicate the Shiites. (There is no reason in the world for a Shiite clergyman to kill a Spanish intelligence officer, but every reason for a Baathist to do so.
See also “Iraq’s Shiites Under Occupation,” the new briefing by the International Crisis Group:
Guerrillas in Baqubah killed a US soldier with a rocket-propelled grenade attack on Thursday. Guerrillas near Fallujah attacked two US convoys, wounding at least one US soldier.