Violence in Iraq continues as bombings kill 2 more
By Katherine Zoepf and Sharon Otterman
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
BAGHDAD: After a relatively quiet few weeks here, the violence in Iraq continued on Tuesday when two bombs were detonated simultaneously during the morning rush hour at a newspaper stand in western Baghdad, killing two and injuring 17, an Interior Ministry official said.
The explosions followed a synchronized triple-bombing in northern Baghdad Monday, which killed 28 people in the deadliest attack in Baghdad since June, when a car bombing killed 51.
In the attack Monday, the bombers struck a main street of a mixed Sunni and Shiite neighborhood in the Adhamiya district about 8:15 a.m., when the street was bustling with street cleaners and commuters heading to work.
Bombs planted in two parked cars exploded about five minutes apart, an Interior Ministry official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. As a crowd gathered in the chaos, a suicide bomber darted into it and detonated his explosives.
Two local hospitals reported that a total of 49 people had been brought in for treatment, some with serious injuries. The Interior Ministry said 68 had been wounded.
The American military later reported much lower casualty figures: seven killed and 37 wounded. Such discrepancies are not uncommon in the hours after a violent attack.
The bombings, along with a suicide attack in Baquba on Monday, seem to be part of an uptick in violence after relative recent calm. On Sunday, at least 12 Iraqis were killed in a spate of attacks, many of them in provinces outside of Baghdad where Iraqi-led security operations had recently taken place. On Saturday, at least 11 people were killed in attacks in Baghdad and Anbar Province.
The Associated Press counted at least 19 bombings in Baghdad this month as of Sunday, compared with 28 for all of October and 22 in September. At least 44 people were killed in Baghdad bombings from Nov. 1 to this past Sunday, compared with 95 for October and 96 in September, The AP found.
An hour after the blasts in Baghdad on Monday, shattered glass and pools of blood covered the street between two large restaurants. One sold shawarma sandwiches, a popular snack, and chunks of grilled meat were strewn across the road, along with torn-open canisters of cooking gas.
A burst sewer pipe leaked murky water, and a municipal bus was badly damaged, its white plastic seats splashed with blood.
Ganiya Kareem, 60, who had been walking with her grandson, a toddler, said she had seen "a bus turned into a lump of coal."
Hamza Abdul Kareem, 37, an army sergeant, said that until Monday his neighborhood had been "peaceful and beautiful." That morning, he said, he saw a young mother sitting in the bus with a baby in her arms, both dead.
In Medical City, a hospital in central Baghdad where many of the wounded were taken, Ahmed Abdul Kadr, 13, a day laborer, lay dazed on a bed in the ground-floor emergency room, his green cotton shorts caked with blood.
Ahmed said he had come to the capital the week before from his home in Hilla, to the south. He found work as a ditch digger and was helping to excavate a stretch of pavement when the first explosion knocked him flat.
"I was digging together with one man, but he died right there," Ahmed said. "My legs are filled with shrapnel, but I'll be all right. I'm going to go home for a while, but then I'll come to Baghdad and find another job."
Also Monday, a young female suicide bomber blew herself up at a checkpoint near Baquba, north of Baghdad, killing four and wounding 15, a local security official said. The bomber seemed to have sought to attack members of the Awakening movement, a Sunni counterinsurgency group, who were operating the checkpoint. Two of the dead and seven of the wounded were Awakening members.
Security officials in Diyala Province, of which Baquba is the capital, said that only the head and the feet of the bomber had been recovered, but that she appeared to be about 15 years old.
She was the second female suicide bomber to strike in Iraq in two days. On Sunday, a woman blew herself up at a hospital in Anbar Province, killing another woman.
In Baghdad Province, the Iraqi government has begun taking over the payment of tens of thousands of Awakening members, a group of mostly Sunni Arabs who have worked with the Americans to fight Islamic extremists. Until Oct. 1, they were paid by the United States military.
The Iraqi payouts began this week in west Baghdad, and will continue later in the month in other areas.
At a joint American and Iraqi outpost in the Jihad neighborhood, scores of Awakening guards received 354,000 dinars, the Iraqi equivalent of their old $300 monthly salary under the Americans.
Staff Colonel Ali Aboud Thamer, the Iraqi commander of Jihad and Furat districts, said he was "very happy." As he spoke, the Awakening guards, very likely including former insurgents who once fought his own men, lined up at a table piled with fresh bills, some saluting as they were handed the cash.
Also on Monday, negotiations continued between Iraq and the United States over a long-term security agreement. Iraq's spokesman said changes proposed by the United States last week were "not enough" and his government had asked Washington for revisions if it wanted the pact approved, The AP reported.
The spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, did not specify which points the Iraqis found unacceptable.
A State Department spokesman said the United States had not received an official response and had no comment.
For the American military to remain in Iraq, an agreement must be approved by Parliament before a United Nations mandate expires on Dec. 31.
Katherine Zoepf reported from New York and Sharon Otterman from New York. Anwar J. Ali contributed reporting from Baghdad.