July 02, 2006

Last Throes -- Part 5,729

Insurgent attacks in Baghdad have risen despite a recent security crackdown that added thousands of troops and new checkpoints to the streets of Iraq's capital, a U.S. commander said on Friday.

"I think since we have started Operation Together Forward, you'll find that the number of attacks are going up," Army Col. Jeffrey Snow told reporters on a videoconference from Baghdad, referring to the security crackdown.

Snow could not provide statistics on the increase in attacks. He said steps to tell the Iraqi people about new security measures kept insurgents informed of the military's plans.

He said he was not surprised at the increase in attacks.

"As we populated and put additional patrols, both dismounted and mounted, into neighborhoods ... and we increased the number of checkpoints, we expected that there would be an increase in the number of attacks," Snow said. "And that is precisely what's happened."

"I believe that these attacks are going to go down over time. So I remain optimistic," he said.

Baghdad remains one of the more dangerous areas of Iraq. Its residents are subject to dusk-to-dawn curfews and lawlessness has not diminished.
BAGHDAD — A suicide car bombing at a crowded open-air market Saturday killed 77 people and wounded 96 in the deadliest single attack since the Iraqi government was formed six weeks ago. Other violence brought the day's toll to 92 even as authorities announced the discovery of 26 bodies.

The market, in the poor Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, was teeming with activity when the bomber struck: Fruit sellers could be heard haggling loudly as shoppers wandered past carts laden with vegetables and watermelons.

"Then the huge explosion came," said Raheem Shawaili, a 47-year-old shopkeeper, recounting how everything around him changed in an instant.


Survivors remembered some of those killed in the bombing: a 12-year-old boy named Aqil and his mother, who had been selling eggs at one of the stalls; an older man who was a taxi driver, also named Aqil; Abu Waleed, a father of six; and many others.

"Even the animals were the victims of their brutality," said Hanoon Thamir, 47. "I saw an injured horse bleeding and kicking from the pain of its injuries until it died."

Sabri Faleh Bahadli looked on with despair as residents cleaned up the bloody scene, shoveling debris and victims' shoes onto dump trucks.

The 49-year-old baker saw his neighbor's teenage son, Sami, stagger away from the explosion cradling his right hand, which was almost severed at the wrist.

Officials at the Imam Ali Hospital in Sadr City said early today that 77 people had died in the explosion and 96 had been wounded. At the morgue next to the hospital, some volunteers helped people find their relatives. Others, including Ali Aboodi, 35, collected body parts.

"This eye, this ring, this leg," Aboodi said, as he separated the remains into three nylon bags. Some of the remains, including a small arm, belonged to children, he said.
Get Out Now: Just Do It.

(Story links via Antiwar.com.)