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Comments by YACCS
Monday, April 03, 2006

Listen to my 9mm go bang

You can't stick a pit bull in your back pocket

Sectarian Strife Fuels Gun Sales in Baghdad

Published: April 3, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 29 — With chipped, painted fingernails, Nahrawan al-Janabi picked up a cartridge and slid it into the chamber.

As killings increase, Baghdad residents have increasingly taken up firearms. Elham Bayroti was given a pistol as a government employee, but has taken it with her outside of work.

"Like this," she said, loading her new Glock pistol with a loud, satisfying click. "You see, like this."

Akram Abdulzahra now keeps his revolver handy at his job in an Internet cafe. Haidar Hussein, a Baghdad bookseller, just bought a fully automatic assault rifle and has been teaching his wife how to shoot.

Iraq has long been awash in guns. But after the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra in late February, sectarian tensions exploded, and more Iraqis than ever have been buying, carrying and stockpiling weapons, adding an unnerving level of firepower to Baghdad's streets.

The average price for a Russian-made Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, which is perfectly legal here, has jumped to $290 from $112 in the past month, according to several gun dealers. Bullets have climbed to 33 cents each from 24 cents.

Hand grenades, which are not legal but are easy to get, run $95. Pre-Samarra, they were about half that. The swiftly rising prices are one clear sign that weapon sales are hot.

Militia ranks are swelling, too, with growing swarms of young, religious, mostly uneducated men taking to the streets with automatic weapons slung over their shoulders.

Hussein Abdul Khaliq, a foot soldier in the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia, was guarding a strip of curb in eastern Baghdad the other day and violating several laws in the process — all within sight of a police patrol.

Mr. Khaliq did not have a permit to carry the AK-47 that his militia had issued him. He had many more than the authorized limit of 50 rounds. He was well below the minimum age of 25 for carrying a gun. "Let them try to take it from me," said Mr. Khaliq, a muscular 17-year-old.

The American military has added to the arsenal also, by shipping in hundreds of thousands of firearms and millions of rounds of ammunition, in an effort to equip the fledging Iraqi security forces so American troops will be able to leave.

Iraqi leaders are increasingly worried about this gun glut.

"We collected most of the heavy weapons out there, but we should have collected all the light weapons," said Haider al-Abadi, an aide to the prime minister. "This is not good."

He sounds like a Crip from LA. Except that he's more likely to protect the cops than the other way around.

posted by Steve @ 1:13:00 AM

1:13:00 AM

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