Several US Troops Wounded in Mosul and near Kirkuk; Assassination and a Bomb in Baghdad
AFP reports that 3 US soldiers were wounded in separate rocket and mortar attacks in Mosul on Wednesday. Iraqi police reported that guerrillas fired rocket-propelled grenades at US troops and wounded 2. An eyewitness said the assailants got away on a motorcycle. Later in the day, guerrillas fired 8 mortar shells at an American outpost near the University of Mosul, wounding one US soldier and damaging a Humvee.
Demonstrations by hundreds of Mosul University Students continued on Wednesday, as they chanted in favor of Saddam in several parts of the city and then about a thousand converged on the provincial state house. In the end, Iraqi police shot four students. After that, protesters overran and set fire to the offices of the Turkmen party in the city, and set afire and threw rocks at the car of one of its members. (Note, the ethnic tinge to this violence). US tanks then surrounded the University of Mosul. Az-Zaman reported one professor as saying that it was a mistake to disregard all the demands of the students, some of which had to do with administration and government employment, and that marginalizing the educated middle class was a policy fraught with potentially disastrous results down the road.
Az-Zaman reported that guerrillas detonated a roadside bomb at a US convoy in Humairah south of Kirkuk, wounding a number of US soldiers, according to Iraqi police. (Neither incident was confirmed by the Pentagon, which typically does not report US soldiers being wounded unless one is also killed that day.)
Guerrillas detonated a roadside bomb in Baghdad, attempting to hit a US convoy but missing it, and killing an Iraqi and wounding two others, instead. (az-Zaman).
Az-Zaman also reported that a senior member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq from the al-Hakim family has been assassinated in Amiriya in Baghdad, presumably by Sunni supporters of Saddam. 63 members of the al-Hakim family were killed by Saddam and his supporters, including 8 brothers of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the current SCIRI leader.
In Najaf, the Baghdad daily said, a Baath official was torn limb from limb by a mob when he was recognized while walking in the street in the Shiite holy city.
The administration of the University of Tikrit has decided to close it down for three days in the face of constant student protest in favor of Saddam. (az-Zaman).
Just a personal note. I lived in Beirut during the early years of the civil war there in the mid to late 1970s. When I see correspondents reporting from downtown Baghdad, and hear the repeated gunfire and bombings in the background, I cannot help flash on Beirut then. Apparently Baghdad closes up at 9 pm every night, and people are desperately afraid for their security. It isn’t even clear whom the gunmen are fighting. These obvious signs of near-anarchy are visible whenever Wolf Blitzer or some other anchor talks to an American in Baghdad nowadays. It is incredible to me that anyone is optimistic, given this obvious lack of security in the country’s capital, which is occupied by thousands of American troops! I mean, this really is an ’emperor has no clothes’ scenario, but Wolf and others seem too polite to just say so.