Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Iraq - Violence increases

Iraq has become an ever stronger issue as the British political parties campaign for the last few days leading up to Thursday’s poll. Further leaks have surfaced over the weekend adding further pressure on the Blair administration to explain their decisions over the war. The 88th British soldier to die in the continuing conflict over the weekend was named as 24 year old Anthony Wakefield from Newcastle upon Tyne. The soldier died in a bomb attack Monday in Al Amarah, north of Basra. The weekend also saw many suicide bomb attacks throughout the country. Two bombs exploded in Baghdad, Monday, killing a least four people. The first bomb exploded in the Huriya district of northwest Baghdad as a small convoy of vehicles carrying Major General Fuleih Rasheed, the commander of a police commando unit linked to the Interior Ministry, was passing. Several bodyguards were injured. The second car bomb exploded in the Karrada district, a busy neighbourhood in the south of the capital. It detonated outside an electrical goods store on a major shopping street, damaging an apartment building and half a dozen cars. Four were killed and at least 12 injured. A suicide bomb was also reported to have killed several people in the northern city of Mosul. In the latest developments, a US pilot has been killed another missing, presumed dead, in what the US military describe as a possible mid-air collision. The two F-18 were on patrol in an, as yet, unspecified area. Centcom also announced the death of one US soldier and another injured from an ‘IED’ attack late Monday. The bomb detonated at around 9:45 p.m near to Baghdad’s International airport.
This is an airport where Air Scotland, a small carrier, wish to start a new service. The flights would start at Glasgow Airport and then stop off at Stansted, London en route before flying to Baghdad. The service could begin as early as November. Chairman of Air Scotland, Iraqi born Dhia El-Ani said, “I believe there is tremendous interest and a massive need because I have already heard from a lot of people wanting flights."
In November 2003 another carrier, DHL, halted flights after one of their planes was hit by a missile near the airport.

Lynndie England, who has come to symbolize the abuse of Iraqi POWs at Abu Ghraib prison, has pleaded guilty in an attempt to get a reduced sentence. Some commentators have said those on trial are scapegoats for widespread abuse which went higher up the command structure.

Strong criticism of the US government comes today from the Italian’s as a report criticizes actions taken by the US military which led to the death of Italy’s ‘007’. Nicola Calipari, an Italian agent, was killed by US soldiers as the car, in which he was traveling, made its way towards a US checkpoint. He was on a mission to rescue a journalist who had been held hostage for several months. The report blames the troops' stress and inexperience, and says the US authorities should have signalled that there was a checkpoint on the road.

Another hostage, that of an Australian Douglas Wood, 63, remained at risk after Australian PM John Howard rejected “any wind down of troops” in the country. The engineer working for a US company was kidnapped by the Shura Council of the Mujahidden of Iraq.

US death toll for April – 51
UK death toll for April – 0
Iraqi Police/Military death toll for April – 199
Civilian deaths – unknown
Contractors death toll for April – 19

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