Getting weaker by the day
A mother held the IV drip for her daughter, 8,
who was wounded by cross-fire during street
fights in the Jihad neighborhood of Baghdad on Sunday.
Baghdad Erupts in Mob Violence
By KIRK SEMPLE
Published: July 10, 2006
BAGHDAD, July 9 — A mob of gunmen went on a brazen daytime rampage through a predominantly Sunni Arab district of western Baghdad on Sunday, pulling people from their cars and homes and killing them in what officials and residents called a spasm of revenge by Shiite militias for the bombing of a Shiite mosque on Saturday. Hours later, two car bombs exploded beside a Shiite mosque in another Baghdad neighborhood in a deadly act of what appeared to be retaliation.
While Baghdad has been ravaged by Sunni-Shiite bloodletting in recent months, even by recent standards the violence here on Sunday was frightening, delivered with impunity by gun-wielding vigilantes on the street. In the culture of revenge that has seized Iraq, residents all over the city braced for an escalation in the cycle of retributive mayhem between the Shiites and Sunnis that has threatened to expand into civil war.
The violence coincided with an announcement by American military officials that they had formally accused four more American soldiers of rape and murder, and a fifth soldier of "dereliction of duty" for failing to report the crimes, in connection with the deaths of a teenage Iraqi girl and three members of her family.
With movement in Baghdad difficult after a military cordon was established to suppress the violence, facts were hard to ascertain. The death toll from the shootings alone ranged from fewer than a dozen, according to the American military, to more than 40 reported by some news services. The bombing near the mosque later claimed at least 19 lives and left 59 wounded, officials said.
The military's announcement about the soldiers brought to six the number implicated in the rape-murder, one more than previously disclosed. The case has enraged Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and led to apologies by the highest American military and civilian officials in Iraq. A photograph of the girl's passport distributed by news agencies on Sunday showed that she was 14.
Only seven weeks old, Mr. Maliki's government is facing increasingly difficult obstacles. Worsening violence has undermined his intention to disarm the country's sectarian militias. At the same time, the growing furor over criminal accusations against American troops has tested Mr. Maliki's divided loyalties to his American allies and to an Iraqi public that has grown weary of the American presence.
The killings on Sunday in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Jihad began in late morning, near the site of a car bomb explosion in front of a Shiite mosque on Saturday, residents and officials said. Initial reports said the bombing had killed three people, but the American military said Sunday that at least 12 people, including 3 children, had died in the blast, and at least 18 had been wounded.
According to some residents and Sunni Arab officials interviewed by telephone, the gunmen, whom they accused of being members of a feared Shiite militia, the Mahdi Army, set up checkpoints around the neighborhood, indiscriminately pulled scores of Sunni Arabs from their homes and cars and killed them on the street. Other bodies were found with their hands bound behind their backs and gunshots in their heads, residents said.
At this point, you have to ask how long can the Iraqi government last with this kind of killing going on?
Maliki-Kerensky is going to lose control of his government to a revolutionary force, either Sadr or SCIRI.
posted by Steve @ 12:20:00 AM