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26 Killed in Revenge Attacks Outside Baghdad
By MICHAEL LUO and QAIS MIZHER
Published: October 15, 2006
BAGHDAD, Oct. 14 — A rural Shiite town northwest of here exploded in sectarian reprisals on Saturday as angry residents, many roving the streets in armed packs on the backs of pickup trucks, killed at least 26 people from a nearby Sunni village, provincial authorities said.
The killings in the town of Balad , about 50 miles from Baghdad, were in response to the slaughter of 14 Shiite construction workers whose beheaded bodies were found Friday in an orchard in Dhuluiya, a Sunni town, said Hamad al-Qaisi, governor of Salahuddin Province, which includes both towns.
The workers had gone to Dhuluiya on Thursday to help rebuild houses and were on their way back when they were kidnapped by Sunni militiamen, said another government official from Salahedin who spoke on condition of anonymity.
When their corpses were eventually brought back to Balad, angry mobs gathered in the streets clamoring for revenge, Mr. al-Qaisi said.
Armed residents set up a checkpoint inside Balad’s central market area, where many people from Dhuluiya come to shop, he said, as well as one on the road between the two towns.
At least 26 bullet-riddled bodies, all believed to be Sunni residents of Dhuluiya, were found around Balad on Saturday, he said.
Mr. Qaisi went to Balad to meet with tribal sheiks to urge restraint. He said he exacted their promises to do what they could. Meanwhile, he imposed a curfew as of Saturday evening on Balad and Dujail, a neighboring Shiite town, where sectarian tensions are also high, he said.
“The situation is very bad in both Balad and Dujail,” he said.
Gunmen in pickup trucks were still roaming Balad on Saturday afternoon, he said, adding that he has asked the American military to help him impose order.
The violence here is much worse than Lebanon. Much worse and much more savage.
My greatest fear is when do the PMC, or for short, mercenaries, cross over from working for the Iraqi "government" to working for Sadr or Hakim. Clearly, they have the money to hire these companies, especially the non-American ones and use them for combat training and leadership. And then they get sucked into the fight.
Sure, the ex-operators from Blackwater are going to play on the straight and narrow, maybe even the Ghurkas, but South Africans, Chileans? When they're offering up $100K salaries or all the oil you can sell? Then you have the Iraqi army and police we trained.
People think Iraq is bad now. It isn't even close. It isn't even close.
A lot of the mercs will see money tossed in their faces, more money than now, and make hard decisions. If you're a former German KSK member and suddenly the word is that you can make $250k by leading the Sadrists militia of Al Kut, you are going to be real tempted. For third world military elites, it's even worse. For $100K, vastly more than the Americans pay them, fighting for Sadr could ensure a lifetime of riches.
posted by Steve @ 11:25:00 AM