Bombs, Violence Kill 60 in Northern Iraq

The massive violence in Iraq on Tuesday underlines that in the north, the US is mainly fighting Sunni Iraqis, some of them neo-Baathists. It is a misnomer to call the resistance “al-Qaeda,” since most of them are not foreign fighters but Iraqis, and none of them has Usamah Bin Laden’s telephone number.

The recent propaganda push by Bush and his aides to blame Iran for most of Iraq’s ongoing instability is revealed as grounded in false premises. The Sunni guerrillas who hit Baquba, Baghdad, Ramadi and Mosul were completely unconnected to Iran.

At the very end of the Reuters post quoted below, we see an implicit acknowledgment that what Iranian weapons have come into Iraq have often come in via freelance smugglers using donkeys.

There were several big bombings:

Baqubah, a mixed city of a couple hundred thousand northeast of Baghdad, is the capital of Diyala province. Diyala is 60% Sunni Arab, but has strong Shiite and Kurdish minorities. The attempt of the US to establish Sunni militias or ‘Awakening Councils’ in Diyala has faltered in part because it is a mixed area and fights keep breaking out with Shiites. Diyala Awakening Council fighters have at points gone on strike to demand arrears of pay, and to protest the arbitrary actions of the Shiite police chief.

Some 40 persons were killed and 70 wounded in a suicide bombing on Monday in Baquba. AP writes, “AP Television News footage showed many of the bodies covered in crisp white sheets in the main hospital’s courtyard while the emergency room inside was overwhelmed with the wounded.”

AP adds, “A suicide attacker on a motorcycle later drove up to a kebab restaurant in Ramadi and detonated his explosives vest around 12:30 p.m., killing at least 13 people including three policemen and wounding 20 other people . .”

Ramadi is in the Sunni al-Anbar Province west of Baghdad.

The city of Mosul was also hit by bombings. Mosul is in the north and is 80 percent Sunni Arab. It is fought over by Sunni militants and the Kurds.

This Reuters report suggests the full extent of the calamity:

‘BAQUBA – A car bomb killed 40 people and wounded 80 in the city of Baquba, 65 km (42 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

RAMADI – A suicide car bomb killed 13 people and wounded 14 others near a restaurant in western Ramadi, 110 km (68 miles) west of Baghdad, a hospital source and police said.

* NEAR KERBALA – Gunmen attacked a small town near the southern city of Kerbala, killing five people including two women and wounding six others, police said. The attack forced 150 people to flee. The attackers then blew up 14 houses, police said. Kerbala is 110 km (68 miles) southwest of Baghdad.

* BAGHDAD – U.S. forces detained 18 militants on Monday and Tuesday during operations targeting al Qaeda in the Tigris River Valley and the country’s north, the U.S. military said.

* BASRA – Gunmen wounded an aide to the country’s top Shi’ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in a drive-by shooting in Basra in southern Iraq, police said. The aide’s bodyguard was killed.

* MOSUL – A girl was killed inside her schoolroom by a stray bullet in eastern Mosul, police said.

* MOSUL – A roadside bomb wounded four policemen when it struck their patrol in eastern Mosul, Brigadier-General Khalid Abdul-Sattar said.

* MOSUL – Two Iraqi soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb in western Mosul.

BAGHDAD – Three people were killed and eight wounded in car bomb attack in central Baghdad, police said. The target was an Iraqi police convoy.

BAGHDAD – Six people were killed and 26 wounded in fighting in the Sadr City district overnight, police and hospital sources said. The U.S. military said it had killed at least 10 fighters in Sadr City. Three were killed in one gunbattle in the slum, before U.S. troops ordered air strikes that killed another three, the military said in a statement. A spokesman said U.S. forces in a tank killed another four militants who attacked them in a separate engagement.

MOSUL – Gunmen killed a female lawyer and her sister in eastern Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

BASRA – Iraq’s defence minister left the southern city of Basra to return to Baghdad on Monday, transferring all duties and authority to Lieutenant-General Mohan al-Furaiji, commander of Iraqi armed forces in Basra, an officer said. Basra has been the scene of a crackdown on militias overseen by the central government.

MOSUL – Gunmen stormed an apartment and killed three women and a man on Monday in Mosul, police said.

NEAR KHANAQIN – Iraqi border guards clashed with smugglers trying to bring in 170 roadside bombs stacked on mules near Khanaqin in Diyala province, on the border with Iran, a border guard source said. The U.S. military said Iraqi officers discovered a cache of anti-tank mines after taking small arms fire from an unknown number of gunmen on Monday. It gave no location but the incidents appeared to be the same.

(Compiled by Aws Qusay, editing by Dean Yates)’

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