Bloody weekend: 220+ dead in Iraq

Prominent Shiite and Sunni politicians called on Iraqi civilians to take up arms to defend themselves after a weekend of violence that claimed more than 220 lives, including 60 who died Sunday in a surge of bombings and shootings around Baghdad.

The calls reflect growing frustration with the inability of Iraqi security forces to prevent extremist attacks.

The weekend deaths included two American soldiers — one killed Sunday in a bombing on the western outskirts and Baghdad and another who died in combat Saturday in Salahuddin province north of the capital, the U.S. command said. Three soldiers were wounded in the Sunday blast.

Sunday’s deadliest attack occurred when a bomb struck a truckload of newly recruited Iraqi soldiers on the outskirts of Baghdad, killing 15 soldiers and wounding 20, a police official at the nearest police station said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Also Sunday, two car bombs exploded near simultaneously in Baghdad’s mostly Shiite Karradah district, killing eight people. The first detonated at 10:30 a.m., near a closed restaurant, destroying stalls and soft drink stands. Two passers-by were killed and eight wounded, a police official said.

About five minutes later, the second car exploded about a mile away near shops selling leather jackets and shoes. Six people were killed and seven wounded, said the official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The Karradah area includes the offices of the Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq, the biggest Shiite party in parliament, and is considered among the safest parts of the capital.

Elsewhere, a bomb hidden under a car detonated Sunday at the entrance of Shorja market — a mostly Shiite area of central Baghdad that has been hit repeatedly by insurgents — killing three civilians and wounding five, police said.

Police also reported they found the bodies of 29 men Sunday scattered across Baghdad — presumed victims of sectarian death squads. Four other people were killed Sunday in separate shootings in Baghdad, police said on condition of anonymity because they were not supposed to release the information.

The string of attacks in the Iraqi capital showed that extremists can still unleash strikes in the city despite a relative lull in violence here in recent weeks amid the U.S. offensives in and around Baghdad.

But the bloodshed in the Baghdad area paled in comparison to the carnage Saturday, when a truck bomb devastated the public market in Armili, a town north of the capital whose inhabitants are mostly Shiites from the Turkoman ethnic minority.

There was still confusion over the death toll.

Two police officers — Col. Sherzad Abdullah and Col. Abbas Mohammed Amin — said 150 people were killed. Other officials out the death toll at 115. Abbas al-Bayati, a Shiite Turkoman lawmaker, told reporters in Baghdad that 130 had died.

Regardless of the precise figure, the attack was clearly among the deadliest in Iraq in months. It reinforced suspicions that al-Qaida extremists were moving north to less protected regions beyond the U.S. security crackdown in Baghdad and on the capital’s northern doorstep.

During a press conference Sunday in Baghdad, al-Bayati criticized the security situation in Armili, saying its police force had only 30 members and that the Interior Ministry had finally responded to requests for reinforcements only two days before the attack.

In the absence of enough security forces, al-Bayati said authorities should help residents “arm themselves” or their own protection.

The call for civilians to take up arms in their own defense was echoed Sunday by the country’s Sunni Arab vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, who said all Iraqis must “pay the price” for terrorism.

“People have a right to expect from the government and security agencies protection for their lives, land, honor and property,” al-Hashemi said in a statement. “But in the case of (their) inability, the people have no choice but to take up their own defense.”

He said the government should provide communities with money, weapons and training and “regulate their use by rules of behavior.”

Another prominent Sunni lawmaker, Adnan al-Dulaimi, said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had failed to provide services and security but he stopped short of saying his followers would seek to topple the Shiite-led government.

“The situation has become terribly bad,” al-Dulaimi told The Associated Press. “All options are open for us. We are going to study the situation thoroughly, and we are going to look into the possible measures which go with the interests of the Iraqi people. We will also consider whether to keep on with the government or not.”

The idea of organizing local communities for their own defense has caught on here in recent months following the success of Sunni Arab tribes in Anbar province that took up arms to help drive al-Qaida from their towns and villages.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have said they hope to replicate the “Anbar model” elsewhere in the country, albeit under government supervision and control.

On Sunday, Lt. Gen. Ali Gheidan said the Iraqi army planned to raise volunteer forces in Diyala province, where U.S. and Iraqi forces have driven al-Qaida fighters from part of the capital of Baqouba. He said more than 3,800 volunteers had already been recruited.

“Their mission will be like the police, working under the Iraqi police,” Gheidan told reporters. “They work as a protection for each area, and they will only be from the residents of that area. Their role is to hold onto territory after it has been cleansed by the military.”

U.S. commanders have long believed the key to restoring security was the ability of Iraqi forces to hold on to areas cleared by American troops. Several senior U.S. officers have questioned whether the Iraqi police and army were capable of preventing insurgents from returning once the Americans had left.

Local defense forces would offer a way to compensate for weaknesses in the Iraqi police and army, but without careful controls, the system could backfire by promoting more militias in a country already awash in weapons.

Also Sunday, the British Defense Ministry announced the death of a British soldier who was wounded Saturday in the biggest British offensive against Shiite militias this year.

8 Responses to "Bloody weekend: 220+ dead in Iraq"

  1. Sandra Price  July 8, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    I guess this is the surge that Bush planned. Did he ever consider that it would kill so many others? Does he consider anything?

    Why not clear out the American soldiers and let the Iraqis kill each other? Is oil worth this loss of lives? Where are our Generals? We know the Congress is not doing a thing about this. We know Bush and Cheney are not doing a thing and still we hesitate to remove our soldiers……why?

    Do we have to go through this again and again and never learn anything from Vietnam and now Iraq?

    If our government tries to put my grandson in harm’s way, move over Cindy, Sandy will take your spot in Crawford. Bush musr stop this or be stopped himself. Where are his parents? Where is his milquetoast wife and kids?

    Are we back in Rome under the great Caesar again? Do we ever learn from history? Is there no group of Christian Ministers who could convince Bush he is wrong to sacrifice our best and brightest men and women? We know the media is having a field day with the killings of our guys as it makes newspaper sales go up. We have all seen the glory and glint in the eyes of the MSNBC news hosts who take delight in telling us about the losses.

    This is not a movie or televion show, it is actual loss of lives based on lies and manipulations of our leader and his rat pack of criminals. It makes me physically sick to realize that this is based on the evil actions of our President, who stepped up to flex his power over all of us.

    We’ve seen this before and how Europe suffered under the same damn actions from Hitler. There is no moral to this story and will end up being the greatest tragedy in American history. Is there no one who can stop this madness?

    Playing musical chairs in 2006 did nothing. NOTHING! Since when did the White House hold all the cards in every hand dealt? We cannot sit back and shrug this off another day. Our Generals should call for an immediate withdrawal. Get the guys out and we can sort out the details when they are home. Somebody put Bush in Airforce One and take him around the world until we are out of the Middle East.

    Goddammit America belongs to us not some cowaredly nincompoop who struts his stuff msking little sense when he speaks. Don’t harm him but make him watch what America will do for the citizens of the U.S.A.

  2. Elmo  July 9, 2007 at 8:42 am

    “…because he was not authorized to talk to the media.”
    “…because they were not supposed to release the information.”

    And here I was wondering why we never hear any of that “good news” from Iraq. It’s just something else that they’re not supposed to talk about.

    And all these people are dying why? Oh, right, I forgot. It’s so they can have freedom.

  3. gene  July 9, 2007 at 6:51 am

    Dam Jenifer D. I been ranting/screaming about Most Americans being clueless, selfish, mindless, braindead cosumers concerned mostly what their next purchase will be. Should I buy another HDTV, new car, bigger house? Only if it makes them “feel good” will they get involved or if they can get something for nothing.

    Trying to get something for nothing is why this country is bankrupt a thousand times over. Bankruptcies and foreclousres are head for outer-space in numbers. We produce little, export very little and import almost everthing. This country has created “financial instruments of death” which go by names such as derivatives, subprime loans, CDOs..collaterlized debt obligations..on and on and on we go. Most of this so called “sophisticated investing” has now turn into toxic waste. In short, the money is GONE for good and we are talking trillions of dollars. This country is the leader is this global paper scam.

    My immediate family are all brain dead except my sister. Try to tell them something about (political or financial issues) and they simply want believe it or don’t want to hear it. They even get angry if I attempt to do so.

    These last several generations of humoid creatures (still assuming their human) have grown up in a very different world than I grew up in. Values, honesty, hard work, family, love, caring about others……well its almost all gone now so why wast anymore words. Their are some of us here and elsewhere that still believe in truth and will never change in our hearts. We used to be the majority but now we are the minority and growing smaller as we die off.

    When they call evil good and good evil……look out!!!!!

  4. Jenifer D.  July 9, 2007 at 12:31 am

    I have my suspicions that this so-called terrorism is government-manufactured; tailored to suit the needs of a group of megalomaniacs who wish to use fear to coerce the voting masses into surrendering their freedom and liberties for a false sense of security AND create a global empire for the United States, with their little buddy Israel keeping step with the big dogs.

    Sure, the chimp and the corpulent toad are doing something alright; letting their dirty work take its toll on the world. Congress and the Senate are more worried about their own sorry skins than what the voters want anymore. America’s founding fathers did leave provisions in the event tyranny raised its ugly, pimpled head; it’s called the second amendment. The right to keep and bear arms.

    What worries me the most right now is that my own immediate family in the U.S. doesn’t care to know what’s going on in the U.S. Government. They have their little inherited nest eggs and would prefer not to get involved. I’d say that sums up the way some people tend to view life; ignorance is bliss, that is, until Big Brother kicks down your door one morning and takes away everything you took for granted.

  5. SEAL  July 9, 2007 at 4:22 am

    Nothing frustrates a military commander more than being given a mission that cannot be accomplished or will accomplish absolutely nothing. The problem has been explained unto infinity but from the troops point of view it comes down to how do you tell who the enemy is? They all look alike. And if we do get lucky and find some of the bad guys, they will be replaced with more of the same the minute we leave. Add to that the fact that there are multiple wars being waged at the same time PLUS individual vendettas.

    We are fighting al Queda.
    The sunnis and the shiites are at war with each other.
    The sunnis and shiites are fighting an insurgent war against us.
    And just about everyone has a personal reason to kill some other person.
    Al Queda is indiscriminately killing anyone with car bombs, roadside bombs, and suicide bombers just to keep the shiites and sunnis mad at each other, both mad at the Iraqi government and mad at us, and the American people mad at Bush.

    Now, with those conditions, the military cammander is given an order to go into a certain area, locate, and kill or arrest the bad guys. That should be al Queda. How do we identify them? They will be the ones with the bombs and/or materials to make them. Or the ones with guns. They will be muslim males over 12 years old. They will probably be the houses with no women and children in them. Maybe not. Oh Hell let’s just kick all the doors in and maybe we will get lucky. 5 days, 2 dead Americans, and 5 wounded later, we have captured 5, killed 13, captured some bomb making stuff in one house, and really pissed off everyone in the neighborhood.

    Tomorrow we start on the next neighborhood and the last one goes right back to what it was before we came through except everyone in it is gunning for us now because of what we did. We had the same problem in Vietnam except there was a lot more vegetation and hiding places.

    This senario will continue as long as we are there and get worse every day. The only way to end it is to pull back to the Green Zone and our bases and let the Iraqis have it out until they get tired of killing each other. When that happens al Queda will be gone. The Iraqis know who they are and don’t want them there if we aren’t there. Without us involved, the Iraqis will find a way to settle their differences. As long as they have us to blame for everything it will go on forever.

    This is Bush’s solution and he could save face. He doesn’t have to withdraw, just disengage. We are still there to keep Iran or anyone else out of it. He could even bring 30-40,000 troops home and make some points with the voters. Listen to your Military advisors Mr. Bush. We know what we are doing. Obviously, you don’t.

  6. Carl Nemo  July 8, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    We’re in trouble because our system of government is outmoded for the dynamic times in which we live. Also people’s values have changed in the past 218 years since this government was founded in 1789 with the signing of the U.S. Constitution. We need single term limits for the Presidency, the Senate, and the House which would preclude re-electioneering and all the associated wastage of money and criminality. Lobbying needs to be outlawed or severely curtailed. A quasi-parliamentary procedure implemented where “we the people” participate in a “vote of confidence” procedure halfway through all elected officials terms; ie., if they aren’t cutting the mustard then we throw them out and put their office up to the election process mid-term. Still, they only serve one term.

    These changes would give “we the people” a very dynamic and proactive hold on their collective necks while they are in office. They would be jumping to our tune and through our hoops and not to external influences as now.

    Carl Nemo **==

  7. bryan mcclellan  July 8, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    This just totally boggles the mind.Didn’t we learn these lessons forty years ago in the R.V.N.Our troops in a 360 degree war zone can’t find a moments peace while chimp is back here cracking wise to a scripted and selected audience of N.G.’s. Chimp and his R.E.M.F.’s leisurely walking on the graves of the fallen and yet to fall have nearly pushed this old Vet over the edge.To think the Iraqis are any different than the A.R.V.N.’s is absolute madness.Congress has to act now,end it before our military is broken beyond repair.Bring them home and get on your knees to beg their forgiveness chimp. I’ll wager that to a man they will say they never volunteered to support a losing cause perpetrated on lies by a cowardly draft dodging maniac. God save our soldiers…..

  8. Joe Lawrence  July 9, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    I used to be stunned when seeing large numbers of Americans standing to cheer Bush or Cheney, even in the most highly staged settings, but I have come to realize that most of those making up the crowds could not correctly answer any question put to them on one of Jay Leno’s ‘Jaywalking’ bits.

    They neither know nor care about the origins of our freedoms, so they cede them easily, and they “little note nor long remember” that Bush, Cheney & Friends, Inc. cede no rights, pivileges or blood in the imagined War on Global Terror.

    The sheep give the wool, while the shearers take the profits.

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