Pilgrimage Massacre Kills 138, Wounds 100s
Major Mosul Jailbreak
9 US GIs were announced killed on Tuesday, 6 in a roadside bombing in Salahuddin Province north of Baghdad, and 3 more in Diyala to the northeast of the capital.
Sunni Arab guerrillas on Tuesday targeted Shiite pilgrims on their way to the holy city of Karbala south of Baghdad. The most horrific attacks came in the form of two bombings in the largely Shiite city of Hilla, which killed 114 and wounded over 150. Some Shiite observers believe that the Mahdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr had done a better job of providing security, and that the US disarming of the group left the Shiites vulnerable.
In Mosul, dozens of guerrillas stormed the Badoush prison and freed 150 prisoners. Some 100 were recaptured, but about a third of them are still at large.
Al-Zaman reports in Arabic that Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National List (25 seats) and Adnan Dulaimi of the Iraqi Accord Front (44 seats) announced Tuesday the formation of a new coalition in parliament. Salih Mutlak of the Sunni Arab National Dialogue Front is also said to be intending to join the new bloc (his group has 11 seats in parliament) along with the Reconciliation and Reconstruction list of Mishaan Juburi (3 seats) and the Islamic Virtue Party (Fadila, 15 seats in parliament), which had earlier been part of the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite fundamentalist coalition. This 98-seat alliance is a new development, but unless it can attract another 40 MPs, it cannot hope to form a government. I also just don’t think a coalition with hard line Sunnis and with the Islamic Virtue Party as well as Shiite secularists is likely to be stable or to last long.
Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashimi (Sunni Arab) has been negotiating with the Syrian government about acting as an intermediary for negotiations with high Baathist former Iraqi officials in Damascus. The Baathists play a much bigger role in the guerrilla movement in Iraq than is generally realized.