Monday, May 08, 2006

Iraq - the terror of war

As the situation in Iraq worsens, a solution to the chaos seems ever more distant. News coverage of the developing crisis had all but dried up over the last week, but on Saturday the downing of a British helicopter rekindled interest, at least amongst the British media. The Lynx helicopter crashed after it was hit by what was described as a missile killing 5 British troops. The reaction of the local population in Basra was one of jubilation. Thousands poured onto the streets, some clashing with British soldiers who were attempting to make their way to the crash site. Some in the crowd were heard to declare their allegiance to Moqtada al-Sadr’s Medhi Army, a further worrying sign for the coalition. Hearts and minds have been lost in the continued insurgency and the hostility towards the coalition forces has spread from the predominantly Sunni insurgents to the majority Shi’ite population. But as the media concentrated on the story of the crashed helicopter, Iraqis were being killed and maimed all over Iraq. A suicide bomber wearing an Iraqi army uniform entered an Iraqi army base in Tikrit and detonated an explosives belt, killing three army officers. Two Iraqi policemen were injured by a roadside bomb in the northern city of Mosul. In Baghdad, two children were killed and a woman injured when a mortar landed on their house in the north of the city. On Friday 3 US troops were killed by a roadside bomb in Banil province, south of Baghdad [BBC]. This brought the US death toll to 2,418. The British death toll stands at 109 whilst the uncounted Iraqi death toll is estimated at upwards of 30,000. On Thursday at least nine died in a suicide attack near a court house in Baghdad, 46 were injured [BBC]. In another incident Iraqi sources said at least five civilians died in a US raid on a house in the city of Ramadi, although the US military would not confirm this. Hospital and police officials are quoted as saying the civilian deaths happened when US aircraft bombed a house in the Aziziyah area of the city, about 115km (70 miles) west of Baghdad. On Wednesday a suicide bomber targeted police recruits killing at least 15 in Fallujah [BBC]. The deaths were among dozens throughout Tuesday & Wednesday as insurgency and sectarian unrest gripped the troubled country. The bullet-riddled bodies of 14 men were recovered together in the Shaab district of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Four Shia students were pulled from a minibus and shot dead overnight. About 20 other corpses were found in Baghdad. And in another incident, a US contractor's car was hit by a roadside bomb near the southern city of Nasiriya, killing a civilian and two others in the vehicle. A governor was also targeted earlier in the week but only his guards were killed by the suicide attack [BBC]. The convoy carrying Maamoun Sami Rashid al-Alwani was hit on the way to his office in the western town of Ramadi on Tuesday. Elsewhere, the US military said it killed 10 in a raid on an insurgent "safe house" near the town of Balad. Three of those who died in Balad, north of Baghdad, were wearing explosive suicide vests, the US said. Police said two people died and five others were injured when a bomb left inside a minibus exploded in a busy market in Shorja, Baghdad. Another Iraqi civilian and a US soldier were killed in separate roadside bomb attacks. On a more positive note, two German engineers held hostage in Iraq for 99 days returned to a military airport in Berlin. Thomas Nitzschke, 28, and Rene Braeunlich, 32, said they had feared for their lives while held captive. They were seized near an oil refinery in Iraq in January. They were last seen appealing for help in an internet video message released in April [BBC].
There were further worrying developments, little reported by most broadcasters, as Iran massed troops on the Iraqi border [BBC]. Turkish troops have also staged a build-up along their common border with Iraq. Recent weeks have seen a number of cross-border bombardments by Iranian troops along Iraq's north-east border, directed against Iranian Kurdish opposition groups taking refuge in the Iraqi Kurdish area. All this comes with Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s insistence to continue uranium enrichment in defiance of the international community and the IAEA. Posted by Picasa

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