2 US Pilots Wounded; Mortar Strike in Basra
Guerrillas in the southern port city of Basra fired mortar rounds at the local government headquarters, but missed and hit local houses instead, killing one Iraqi civilian and wounding four others. Largely Shiite Basra has been quieter than some other parts of Iraq, but has witnessed some spectacular bombings and violence from time to time.
Near the Shiite holy city of Karbala, guerrillas detonated a roadside bomb as a US troop convoy passed. They missed the US troops, but the latter returned fire. Apparently they mistakenly killed two Iraqi civilians and wounded four others.
Guerrillas fired on a US military medical helicopter, wounding the pilot and the co-pilot, who were nevertheless able to land safely.
In the northern Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, local Kurdish police killed two men driving a car loaded with explosives, foiling an attempted suicide bombing in the city.
Knight Ridder’s Tom Lasseter has done a fine report on the way in which the guerrilla insurgency has continued to boil along during the past week, making the “turn-over of sovereignty” an irrelevancy to US troops on the ground. Attacks are back up to the 35 a day range, and informed military observers don’t expect an improvement soon.
US observers keep expressing puzzlement as to why the killing of hundreds or thousands of insurgents has not had an impact in repressing the guerrillas. They don’t seem to get it that Iraqi clans still matter and that when they kill an Iraqi, they anger the man’s brothers, uncles, and first and second cousins, some of whom step forward to take his place. In the US a lot of people don’t even know their cousins and certainly would not sacrifice their lives to avenge one. Iraq is not like that. So, it isn’t really even a matter of ideologies, necessarily. The US military has incurred enough clan feuds to keep the insurgencies going. And, of course, Iraqi and Arab nationalisms are powerful enough that people hate seeing Western troops in their country. The line between being angry about it and being angry enough to pick up a gun is a thin one.