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April 24, 2007

Iraqis Blame US Occupation for Bloody Week


by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail

BAGHDAD - Iraqis blame the U.S. occupation for the failure of two parallel security plans drawn up by U.S. forces and Iraqi troops that failed dramatically with the bombings last week that killed more than 300 people in Baghdad.

Under the security plans, additional troops were brought to Baghdad and most city streets were closed. But car bombings, operations by death squads, and attacks on U.S. troops continue.

The attacks last Wednesday took high casualties among Kurdish workers known to work in that area. Kurds in the north have stayed relatively free of the violence and the sectarian Shia-Sunni killings in the rest of the country. Most Kurds supported the U.S.-led invasion four years back.

"A car bomb went off in Sadriyah neighborhood in the city center causing death to over 200 people," Mahmood Abdulla, from the Russafa Police Directorate in Baghdad, told IPS. "It is not certain that the car was driven by a suicide person; in fact, most of us believe it was parked there since early morning."

Sadriyah is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Baghdad. It is an area that brings together different ethnic and sectarian groups.

"We do not know who is killing us, but we do know who is responsible for our safety," Kaka Kadir, who lost a 15-year-old son in the attack, told IPS. "All we receive from our government and the Americans is talk, and holding other people accountable, while it is them who should protect us."

"I do not believe it is al-Qaeda any more," a woman weeping near the scene of the bombing told IPS. "I do not care any more, I am just losing my loved ones. The last explosion hit my husband, and now he is disabled, and this one took my son's life."

She referred to a similar bombing two-and-a-half months ago at the same market that killed 137 and wounded many more.

U.S. leaders and Iraqi government officials again accused "terrorists and the Saddamists" of the bombing. But many people around Baghdad are blaming the occupation forces and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

"I noticed that security officers did not carry out any site investigation," a former police officer who lives in a neighboring area told IPS, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "I have also noticed that no such crime has been solved since the first days of the occupation."

The officer said that "huge crimes like the Samarra shrine explosions [at the al-Askari Shia mosque in Samarra, 90 km north of Baghdad in February last year] that led to increasing sectarian disputes, and many other crimes, remain unsolved."

The focus last week was on the Sadriyah attacks, but many others were carried out.

One explosion was reported near a hospital in Karrada district in southeast Baghdad the same day. The attack seems to have targeted an Iraqi army patrol and killed at least 11 people, four of them soldiers.

"Karrada is supposed to be very well protected," 28-year-old Hussein Rathman, a local shop owner who could not reach his shop that day, told IPS. "It seems there is no hope, and everyone should think seriously of leaving the country."

Another explosion the same day killed at least 40 people at Muzaffar Square near Sadr City in east Baghdad. Angry Iraqis demonstrated soon after the bombing against the Iraqi government and occupation forces.

"The problem is that those Americans are still talking about peace and reconciliation in Iraq," Jabbar Ahmed, a lawyer and human rights activist in Baghdad, told IPS. "They should just leave the country after all the disappointment people here feel toward them. All they are doing is lying all the time, while Iraqi blood has become so cheap."

The killings did not end Wednesday. In attacks the following day, 82 people were killed and another 70 injured. Three U.S. soldiers and two British troops were also killed in Thursday's violence.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, over 3,300 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq so far.

(Inter Press Service)

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  • Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail write for Inter Press Service.

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