9 US Troops Announced Killed;
US/ Mahdi Army Clashes in Diwaniyah;
Hundreds of Iraqi Police Made Sick by Meal
Altogether, the US military announced the deaths of 9 US troops over the weekend on Sunday. Four US troops were announced killed by a roadside bomb on Sunday. The NYT says, that in addition, “The military on Sunday announced the deaths of five more American service members. Three marines died Friday from “enemy action” in Anbar Province, in western Iraq. Two soldiers were killed Saturday, one in Mosul by a roadside bomb and the other in Baghdad by small arms fire.”
On Sunday, heavy fighting broke out in downtown Diwaniyah between US troops and the local branch of the Mahdi Army. The gunbattle erupted when the US attempted to arrest a prominent Sadrist Shiite leader. RPG and small arms arms fire echoed through the city for hours and the Shiite guerrillas managed to destroy an Abrams tank. (What? Do they have shaped charges or RPG-28s or what? Ordinary RPG shells just bounce off an Abrams.)
The US military said that the US had killed 30 Sadrist fighters, but this allegation was denied by other sources. The office of young Shiite nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said that the events had nothing to do with him, and he had ordered the Mahdi Army not to attack anyone, including the Americans. It appears that the Sadrists of Diwaniyah are a splinter group not under Muqtada’s control. The NYT says that the local Shiites blamed the US for the fighting since it raided into residential areas, contrary to the terms of the ceasefire reached last month.
Hundreds of Iraqi policemen from a Shiite unit in Wasit Province fell ill Sunday evening after eating the meal that broke their daily fast of Ramadan. Some reports say that 11 died, others that there have not been fatalities but some are seriously ill. There are reports of bleeding from the ears. The food is supplied by an Australian company. The cause of the illnesses is unknown but the authorities are testing to see if it was disease or poison. The unit has fought at Salman Pak against Sunnis.
The Iraqi parliament voted to remove parliamentary immunity from MP Mishaan al-Juburi, leader of a small 3-person Sunni Arab bloc in parliament. He stands accused of embezzling large sums from a program intended to pay tribes for pipeline security. He has fled the country and so can’t actually be prosecuted unless he is extradited. You wonder what happened to his seat in parliament. What with those MPs who have fled or been killed, presumably they are down from the 275-member full complement.
Reuters reports that 50 persons were killed or announced killed in Iraq on Sunday. It was not, however, counting the 4 GIs whose humvee hit a roadside bomb, nor the 35 dead bodies recovered in Baghdad and the 5 in Suwayrah, which take the total to 94.
Over 50 bodies had been found in Baghdad on Saturday, and the death toll rose past 80, according to the LA Times.