63 Dead, 140 Wounded at Zafaraniyah
US Raids Ministry of Health
The Associated Press reports that after 7 pm on Sunday, Sunni Arab guerrillas suddenly attacked the Shiite Zaafaraniyah district of Baghdad. First they set off two car bombs in the neighborhood. Then another team, in the Dora district, fired up to nine rockets at Zafaraniyah. Among other things, the rockets hit three buildings, including a multi-story apartment building that collapsed as a result. The attack left at least 63 dead and 140 wounded, though one suspects those numbers will mount.
US troops have been engaged in a sweep of Dora, so it is possible that this attack was intended as a reprisal, hitting Shiite supporters of the Shiite government that unleashed the Marines on the Sunnis of Dora.
‘ Muhanna Yassin, who lives in Zafraniyah, said the attack left the neighborhood “a total mess” with “bodies of the dead and injured scattered around in the streets — old, young, women and children.”
“The ground shook underneath us and there was chaos everywhere,” he said in a telephone interview. “Everyone was dazed and confused, looking for their families. Some children and grown-ups were crying. I can’t even begin describing their state.” ‘
Other violence, in Baquba, Mosul and elsewhere, is reported by Reuters.
Under threat of Turkish attack in the north, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki closed the Baghdad offices of the Kurdish guerrilla group, the PKK. Since the PKK doesn’t have much of a presence in Baghdad, the gesture was a symbolic one. Turkish officials have cited Israel’s attack on Hizbullah as a precedent for their coming after the PKK inside Iraqi Kurdistan. They accuse the PKK of striking at targets inside Turkey from their safe haven in Iraqi Kurdistan.
US troops swept into the ministry of health, a portfolio held by supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, and made 7 arrests. The ministry is denying that the captured men are Mahdi Army fighters or are involved in kidnapping other Iraqis for ransom.