107 Killed, Including 3 US Soldiers:
321 Hurt in 6 Iraqi Cities
Edmund Sanders of the LA Times and AP report that within a six-hour period, guerrillas launched bombings, ambushes and small arms fire in six cities in the Sunni heartland. Three US soldiers were killed, along with 104 others, and 321 were wounded. Those hurt were mostly bystanders at bombings in the northern city of Mosul.
Al-Hayat says Iraqis are calling it “Black Thursday.”
Although these attacks have been viewed as “coordinated,” I am not sure they really were, or at least that all of them were. There has been serious fighting around the northeastern city of Baquba for the past week, so the violence there has been ongoing and is not the result of a region-wide campaign. Attacks took place, as well, in Mosul, Fallujah, Ramadi, Mahaweel and Baghdad. Again, the fighting in Fallujah has a local history. The al-Tawhid organization of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi took responsibility for all of them on its web site, but this is grandstanding. Former Saddam Fedayeen seem likely to be the actual responsible party in Ramadi, e.g., as interim PM Iyad Allawi noted. He blamed Zarqawi for the huge carbombs in Mosul. Many of Thursday’s attacks were aimed at police stations. Presumably this disruption of policing was aimed at undermining the caretaker government due to take power on June 30.
The violence first broke out in Baquba early Thursday morning, with an ambush on a US patrol. Two soldiers were killed and seven wounded. Guerrillas then attacked the city’s municipal building, a police station and Iraqi police. They killed 20 or so Iraqi policeman. Al-Hayat says the US called in airstrikes on the guerrillas. Wire services reported eyewitnesses saying that the guerillas’ headbands were inscribed with the words, “Battalions of Monotheism and Holy War.” If this were true, it would suggest that Islamists are leading the Baquba insurrection, but Allawi seems to discount it. The group gave out pamphlets saying, “The flesh of those working with the Americans is more delicious than American flesh itself,” one read. Guerrillas in Baquba burned down the home of the police chief, who had been attempting to organize a response to their attacks.
The fighting in Fallujah was a breakdown in the truce with the Marines. The mosques of Fallujah called for calm, and a semblance of order returned. The guerrillas in Fallujah are a mix of ex-Baathists and Islamists. From several press accounts, it appears that Islamists now control the city and it is being run after the manner of the Taliban in 1990s Afghanistan.
Police in Mosul announced a curfew in the wake of the horrible car bombing there.
Sanders reported that many Iraqis, fearful of violence, have fled to Jordan or Syria for the time being. US military in Iraq are apparently being kept from going out much until after the so-called transfer of sovereignty on June 30.
It is truly amazing that Iraqis are now fleeing their country again. That so many had been chased out, and that so many Iraqis had been killed under the Saddam regime, were among the justifications for the war. But we seem to be back to the beginning. These attacks are part of a long-term on-going guerrilla insurgency. They may want to make a statement, what with a new prime minister coming in, that the attempt to cause the pro-American government in Iraq ot collapse will not cease with the “transfer” of “sovereignty.”