I believe we hanged the guy most qualified to handle this kind of problem.
August 20, 2009
US pullout in doubt after day of slaughter on streets of Baghdad
Times on line
Extremists struck at the Iraqi Government with a wave of bombings and mortar attacks, killing at least 95 people and injuring more than 560 and raising new doubts about the withdrawal of US soldiers from the country.
The bombings were directed against the main centres of power, including the ministries of finance, foreign affairs, health, education and housing, as well as the parliament and cabinet buildings.
A lorry packed with explosives that went off within 30ft of the Foreign Ministry is reported to have killed up to 59 people and injured 250. The ministry’s compound wall was flattened and the ten-storey building all but destroyed. Cars and buildings in the vicinity were devastated and houses five miles away were shaken.
The bomb left a crater in the road 10 feet deep and 25 feet wide; it was filled with charred bodies. The heat of the ensuing fire melted debris into the torn asphalt. Dozens of buildings were damaged, including the Rasheed Hotel, on the edge of the fortified green zone. John Tipple, a British solicitor, said: “The windows were blown out — even the door frames went. If I had been in my room I would have been seriously injured or worse. Everything is locked down now. Nobody can move anywhere.”
No group has said that it was behind the attack but it is likely to have been the work of Sunni radicals trying to undermine the Shia-led Government, to reignite sectarian warfare of two years ago. Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, said: “These attacks represent a reaction to the opening of streets and bridges and the lifting of barriers inside the residential areas.”
The date of the attacks was symbolic: yesterday was the sixth anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations compound in Baghdad, killing 22 people, including the UN special envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. That atrocity prompted the UN to suspend its operations in Iraq and signalled a deadly increase in the insurgency.
Since US troops began to pull out of the cities, a rise in attacks has led to fears of a resurgence of violence before the elections to be held by the end of January.
In a reference to the party of Saddam Hussein, Major-General Qassim Atta, the spokesman for the Iraqi Army’s Baghdad operations, said “We accuse the Baathist alliance of executing these terrorist operations.”
Yesterday Baghdad was again enveloped by chaos and fear. Abu Mazen, a 39-year-old police officer, said: “I came home and found all my neighbours crying and my wife crying, then I saw the kids. They were injured in the heads and hands.”
A bystander, Abu Mohammed, 45, said: “I saw a body fly through the air and land next to me. I saw 40 burnt bodies being taken out of the Foreign Ministry — they needed an industrial vehicle with a big shovel to remove them. The bodies were still burning and we poured water on them. There is blood everywhere.”
A woman staggered past him outside the Foreign Ministry, bleeding from the head but insistent that she did not need help. Apartment blocks hundreds of metres away showed cracks in the walls.
Faris, a 28-year-old resident, said: “This is the biggest explosion we have seen since the invasion. I fear we are returning to the bad old days.”
Like many others he blamed careless Iraqi security guards who replaced US soldiers: “How can you drive a lorry filled with explosives right up to the entrance of the ministry?”
Blast walls that might have limited the damage were removed two months ago as part of “normalisation” by the Iraqi Government after US troops withdrew from Iraqi cities on June 30.