Over 1300 Dead in Sectarian Violence
Mortar Strike on Sunni Mosque Kills 4
Ellen Knickmeyer and Bassam Sebti of the WaPo reports that since last Wednesday rioters and militiamen have killed over 1300 Iraqis on a sectarian basis. They add,
‘ Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday — blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound — and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. ‘
The pace of killing slowed on Monday despite the end of the curfew, but there was still some violence.
Reuters reports that on Monday in Iraq, guerrillas fired a mortar shell on Shola, a Shiite district in West Baghdad, killing 4 and wounding 17.
In Nahravan, police commandos from the Interior Ministry fought a battle with Sunni Arab guerrillas. The guerrillas killed 8 police and wounded 6. The police killed 6 guerrillas and said they captured 25.
In the Shiite holy city of Karbala, Iraqi police captured three men planting bombs near the shrine of al-Hurr al-Riyahi.
Robert Worth of the NYT reports, “South of the capital, in Mahmudiya, nine bodies were found blindfolded and shot in the head, police officials said. Four more bodies were found to the north, in Baquba.”
The Iraqi Army deployed a few of its 77 tanks in northern Baghdad.
The LA Times reports that the recent violence in Iraq has provoked a debate in the Pentagon about planned troop draw-downs in Iraq. Some officers think it is crazy to reduce the number now. Others believe that the Iraqis will never step up to the plate as long as they can call in US soldiers. The article quotes Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute (Likud Branch), who is a civilian chickenhawk even though he is young enough so that he could have joined the military and served in Iraq, as saying that it is not the right time to bring home the troops.
Someone should explain to me why last week’s events are an argument for keeping US troops in Iraq. What did they do? Did we hear about any US military units guarding Sunni mosques as they were being attacked by Shiite mobs? The LA Times reports on how US troops were caught between two sides in the rioting, and because they could not enter mosques, were often not able to investigate violent attacks against them.
Al-Zaman/ AFP report that [Ar.] hundreds of Iraqis from both the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam prayed in unison at the Grand Mosque of Tikrit, responding to a call by clergymen. Worshippers streamed to the service from all over Salahuddin Province, including the cities of Baiji, Samarra, Blad, Dujail and Sharqat. Representatives of the Sadr Movement attended, as did those of the Association of Muslim Scholars.
The governor of Salahuddin hailed the joint service as a moment of national unity, and blamed the destruction of the golden-domed Askariyah Shrine in Samarra last Wednesday on “outside forces.”
Sadrist cleric Shaikh Muhammad Taqi pledged that this service was just the beginning of many coming such joint worship sessions. He complained, “It is wrong for us to say, this one is a Sunni and that one is a Shiite. We are all Muslims and we are all children of this nation.”