The carnage called President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq continued Wednesday as insurgent bombing attacks across the devastated country targeted a market, an army recruiting center and a police patrol, killing at least 39 people and wounded dozens Wednesday, police said.
The deaths came as President Bush promised, once again, to “stay the course” in Iraq and Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld called those who oppose the war supporters of fascism.
At least 24 people were killed when a roadside bomb went off at Baghdad’s largest and oldest wholesale market district, said police Lts. Mohammed Khayoun and Bilal Ali Majid.
The Shurja commercial center, with its maze of streets and stalls, is usually teeming with vendors selling everything from satellite dishes to spices.
Thirty-five people were wounded in the attack.
In central Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, a man posing as a potential army recruit detonated an explosives-rigged bicycle outside an army recruiting center, killing 12 people and wounding 28, said police Lt. Osama Ahmed.
Hillah was the site of one of the worst bomb attacks in Iraq, when a suicide car bomber in February 2005 killed 125 national guard and police recruits who were lined up to take physical tests.
In another incident in 2005, a bomb explosion killed 60 civilians who were lining up to apply for police jobs in the Kurdish city of Irbil in northern Iraq.
Insurgents have often targeted Iraqi army and police volunteers as they line up outside recruiting stations as a way to discourage people from joining the security services and keep the military and police weak.
In Wednesday’s other attack, three police officers were killed and 14 people were injured when twin bombs — including one planted in a car — struck a police patrol as it drove by a line of vehicles waiting in a line for gas at a filling station in downtown Baghdad.
As death and carnage increased in Iraq, the Bush Administration stepped up its strident defense of the war. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday the world faces “a new type of fascism” and warned against repeating the pre-World War II mistake of appeasement.
Rumsfeld alluded to critics of the Bush administration’s war policies in terms associated with the failure to stop Nazism in the 1930s, “a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among the Western democracies.”
Citing Bush critics at home or abroad, he said “it is apparent that many have still not learned history’s lessons.” Aides to Rumsfeld said later he was not accusing the administration’s critics of trying to appease the terrorists but was cautioning against a repeat of errors made in earlier eras.
Speaking to several thousand veterans at the American Legion’s national convention, Rumsfeld said that as fascism and Nazism took hold in Europe, those who warned of a coming crisis were ridiculed or ignored. He quoted Winston Churchill as observing that trying to accommodate Hitler was “a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.”
“I recount this history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism,” he said.
“Can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?” he asked.
“Can we truly afford to return to the destructive view that America — not the enemy — is the real source of the world’s troubles?”
Rumsfeld spoke to the American Legion as part of a coordinated White House strategy, before the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to take the offensive against administration critics at a time of doubt about the future of Iraq and growing calls to withdraw U.S. troops.