70 Killed in Civil Violence
45 Pilgrims Kidnapped
Grand Ayatollahs Turn on Shiite Government?
Amid a wave of bombings and violence on Tuesday, among the more dangerous developments was the kidnapping in al-Anbar Province of some 45 Shiite pilgrims on their way back up north after a pilgrimage to the holy city of Najaf. Given the ongoing Sunni-Shiite civil war, which is taking some 3000 lives a month, an incident such as this one could act as a spark to tinder.
At Muqdadiyyah, south of the capital, Reuters reports that “Seven people were killed and 15 wounded when a car bomb exploded beside a police patrol near a hospital in the town of Muqdadiya, 90 km northeast of Baghdad, police said.
At Tikrit north of the capital, guerrillas set a roadside bomb to kill 20 Iraqi soldiers and wound 13. Another 4 civilians died.
In the posh Shiite Karrada district, at least 14 personse were killed and 37 wounded when troops picking up their paychecks were targeted by a car bomber.
Guerrillas attacked minibuses carrying employees in the electricity ministry in Baghdad, killing 4 of them and wounding 7. A car bomb in Zayouna trying to hit a US patrol insead wounded 7, including 3 police commandos. Guerrillas attacked a checkpoint in north Baghdad, wounding 5. At Palestine Street in the capital, a suicide car bomb wounded 2 civilians (its drive had been trying to hit an army unit). Yet another car bomb killed one civilian and wounded another in northeast Baghdad.
A roadside bomb killed a US soldier on Monday south of the capital. In Basra in the far south, a mortar shell landed in the British camp, killing a British soldier.
From Mosul to Karbala, there were other incidents today, covered in the links above.
Al-Zaman reports a sudden collapse of security in Fallujah. Streets are empty and shops closed after a series of daring attacks. Guerrillas assassinated Shaikh Ubayd Salih al-Jumayli, a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars and preacher at the Shafi’i Mosque. They also killed his brother. And they attacked the Salam Hotel in the east of the city, which is being used by Iraqi troops. Local eyewitnesses say the the guerrillas incapacitated a US military vehicle with a roadside bomb.
A correspondent for the Iranian, Arabic language satellite channel, al-Alam, was killed in Iraq, according to al-Zaman.
Nancy Youssef reports from Baghdad that the key Shiite clerical leaders are distancing themselves from the Iraqi government. The charge has been led by Shaikh Bashir Najafi, one of four grand ayatollahs (he is originally from Pakistan). Money para.:
‘ “The government formed after the fall of the regime hasn’t been able to do anything, just make many promises. And people are fed up with the promises,” said Sheik Bashir al Najafi, one of the top four Shiite leaders and one of several who suggested there could be a revolt. “One day we will not be able to stop a popular revolution.” ‘
I discussed Najafi’s statement briefly last week.
Muqtada al-Sadr, the nationalist young Shiite cleric, on Tuesday condemned the Arab world for its inaction on the Israeli war against Lebanon. He also lambasted the United Nations as a US puppet. The Sadrists had demonstrated against the Qana massacre on Monday in Baghdad.
University professors are increasingly fleeing Iraq, victims of death threats.