At least 56 dead, over 200 Wounded in Irbil Blasts
Suicide bombers blew up the headquarters of the two major Kurdish political parties in Irbil northern Iraq, on Sunday. The number killed is now being given by wire services as about 56, with about 235 wounded. The HQs were the being used for receptions in honor of Eid al-Adha (the Day of Sacrifice commemorates God’s sparing of Abraham from sacrificing his son).
When I think “suicide bomber” and “Kurdistan”, I think Ansar al-Islam, the small, shadowy Kurdish radical group, some members of which have ties to al-Qaeda. They desire to punish the two major Kurdish parties for supporting the US presence in Iraq, and to take revenge for the destruction of their headquarters and their marginalization in Kurdistan.
Close observers of Kurdistan were speculating that the incident, which killed a number of important Kurdish politicians, would bring the two main parties closer together; and might stiffen their insistence on greater autonomy within Iraq.
Iraq’s Interim Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, concurs in placing the blame this way.
The Cox News service reported, “an American soldier was killed and 12 were wounded in a rocket attack on a logistics base in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. command said. Two soldiers were in serious condition, six in stable condition and four soldiers were treated for superficial wounds.“
Kurdish Press release
I got this by email from a Kurdish list:
Kurdistan Regional Government
February 1, 2004
Dr. Barham Salih, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Sulaimani, issued the following statement on the terrorist outrage in Irbil:
“The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is saddened by the death of dozens of innocent Kurdish government officials and ordinary citizens as a result of two suicide bombings in the Kurdistan city of Irbil earlier today. The KRG has sent its condolences to the families and friends that lost loved ones in these deplorable acts of terrorism. Those killed included members of both the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) celebrating the Muslim Eid feast with the larger community in Irbil. The KRG sends its wishes for a quick recovery to those injured in the attacks. The entire Kurdistan community stands together during this difficult time.
The fact that the terrorists chose to attack Muslims during these sacred days shows the killers’ utter disregard for the basic tenets of Islam and humanity. The terrorists, be they loyalists of the former regime, local affiliates of al-Qaeda or foreign terrorists, seek to derail Kurdish social and political advancements of the past decade as well as disrupt our joint efforts with our Iraqi compatriots to build a peaceful democratic nation. They will not succeed.
Terrorist tactics such as those employed in Irbil today will not impede Iraq’s social, political and economic progress just as they have failed to do so in other cities such as Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Kirkuk and Mosul. Iraqis will fight terrorism in partnership with the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
The KRG, will use all the powers available to it to find and prosecute those behind today’s terrorist incidents. It will spare no effort to keep Iraqi Kurdistan safe and secure from such terrorism in the future. At the same time, the Iraqi Kurdish leadership will continue working with other Iraqi democrats, inside and outside the Governing Council (GC), and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) toward establishing a democratic, federal and free Iraq. “