SAMARRA - At least 10 residents have died as the result of a curfew imposed
by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government, local doctors say.
Residents in this city of 300,000 located 125 km north of Baghdad have been
struggling to find food, water, and medical supplies. Vehicles have been banned
from entering or leaving the city since May 6.
The Iraqi government and the U.S. military imposed a strict curfew on the city
that day after a suicide car bomb killed a dozen police officers, including
police chief Abd al-Jalil al-Dulaimi. Samarra has been a hotspot of resistance
to the U.S. occupation of Iraq since close to the beginning of the occupation
in March 2003.
After the attack, U.S. and Iraqi forces encircled the city and sealed off all
entrances with concrete blocks and sand bags.
Local people told IPS that the main bridge in the city has been closed, ambulances
have not been allowed to reach people, and residents are facing an increasingly
"We are being butchered here by these Americans," Majid Hamid, a
schoolteacher in Samarra told IPS. "People are dying because we lack all
of the necessities, and our government seems to be so happy about it."
Residents and service providers told IPS that electricity has been cut.
"There is no life in the city because of the collective punishments,"
an employee in the electricity service office of Samarra, speaking on condition
of anonymity, told IPS. "Depriving people of electricity means depriving
them of water, health-care and all of life's maintenance necessities, especially
with such hot temperatures now."
The power grid and water supply in Samarra were already in a state of disrepair.
Both IPS correspondents have been in the city several times throughout the
occupation and witnessed firsthand the U.S. military tactics of cutting water
and electricity to residents after occupation forces had been attacked. U.S.
and Iraqi military tactics have also included bulldozing houses, raiding homes,
"This is not the first siege that we have suffered," Nahla Alwan,
a pharmacist in the city told IPS. "The Americans have done this so often
and they will keep doing it since we do not accept their occupation and all
the disasters it has brought us."
She added, "They should know that we resent them more now, and we will
teach the future generations to take revenge for the innocent souls killed by
the American criminals."
A doctor in Samarra's main hospital, speaking like many others on condition
of anonymity, told IPS that at least 10 people, including seven babies, had
died because of lack of fuel for generators needed to run incubators and lifesaving
equipment. At least two elderly patients were among the dead.
Despite pleas from residents to U.S. and Iraqi forces to allow in aid, none
has arrived and the curfew continues.
"My 10-month-old nephew died of asthma because we could not take him to
the hospital," 25-year-old Nameer Aboud from the Abbasiya quarter of Samarra
"All medical services are paralysed because of this siege applied on Samarra,
and many people are dying. If this had happened anywhere else in the world,
it would have been considered murder, but for the world Iraqi blood is cheap."
"This collective punishment is unfair and it clearly shows how cruel Americans
are," a member of Samarra's city council told IPS. "They are punishing
innocent people in a cowardly way."
The Iraqi humanitarian group Doctors for Iraq has issued a statement expressing
grave concern about the worsening situation.
"Doctors for Iraq condemns in the strongest terms any activities that
prevent civilians from accessing health-care or humanitarian assistance by all
actors engaged in the conflict," the group said.
The doctors demanded immediate end to the blockade, which they called "an
act of collective punishment." They called for local NGOs and health workers
to be allowed access to the city.
A spokesperson for the U.S. military in Iraq admitted to reporters that the
security measures imposed on Samarra had "made living very difficult,"
but claimed that "local authorities" had imposed them.
But the IPS correspondent saw several U.S. military vehicles around the city,
and earlier U.S. military personnel setting up roadblocks at the beginning of
"Those cowards are enjoying killing our children and so are the Persian
[Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki government officials," 45-year-old Abu Nabhan
in Samarra told IPS. "They seem to be in need of further attacks from our
blessed sons in the resistance because this attack on the people of Samarra
will only increase our hatred against the Americans."
Residents are becoming ever more angry with the occupation forces.
"The situation is getting much worse because of this irresponsible behavior
of the U.S. forces," a worker with a local NGO who gave his name as Yassin
told IPS. "They are raising more anger and inclination for violence. All
our efforts to calm the people are wasted now as more people than ever believe
in violence instead of peace."
(Inter Press Service)