Bomb Kills At Least 35 In Baghdad
Thursday's car bomb was the deadliest in Baghdad since the Feb. 11 blast. But more disquieting to many residents of the capital, it was only the latest in a succession of bombings and assassinations that U.S. occupation forces and their proteges in the Iraqi security forces seem unable to prevent.
A bomb exploded Monday, for instance, just off Liberation Square, the heart of Baghdad, killing eight Iraqi civilians and five foreign contract workers.
U.S. military officials had predicted that the tempo of violence would rise as the date for turning over formal sovereignty to Allawi's interim government approached and insurgents sought to undermine confidence in what has been described as the new Iraq. Their prediction has proved accurate, with bombings reaching a rate of more than one a day during June, reinforced by the assassinations of several senior civil servants, including a deputy foreign minister.
A frightened-looking Iraqi man near the scene of Thursday's blast said that, for him, the campaign of violence has had a detrimental effect. A former first lieutenant in the Iraqi air defense command, he was driving up to the recruiting center to rejoin when the bomb exploded. Now, he said, has no intention of returning.
"I'll never go back to this place or the army, no matter what happens to Iraq," he said. "Nothing is worth giving my life for."
With that, he hurried off to make the round of hospitals, seeking to learn the fate of a cousin who he said was standing in the line when the bomb-laden SUV plowed into it and went up with a burst of flames and shrapnel.
"Never, never, never," said Majeed Hameed Mikhlef, 29, who was hospitalized after being wounded in the blast, when asked if he would go back to the center to renew the enlistment application he had submitted. "It is not worth it anymore."
Dhia Kahtan Muhammed, 36, a former warrant officer in the Iraqi army, said from a neighboring hospital bed that he had applied to enlist in a special forces unit but was no longer interested in the job. "I will not go back to that place," he said, "even if they make me a general."
Bashar Mizhar Hamoud, 25, a former sergeant who was hoping to reenlist, said that before the bomb went off, wounding him and so many others, he had received a piece of paper ordering him to return June 26 for processing.
"But after this, I am not going back," he said from his hospital bed. "I have had enough."
Capt. Mohammed Imad, a 30-year-old civil defense officer, said that despite the attacks, he would persist in his job. "If I quit, who is going to stop these attacks?" he said. "If we quit, only terrorists will have jobs in Iraq."
The owner of a fruit and vegetable market in Baghdad's middle-class Karadah neighborhood, Jalal Abu Seif, said the drumbeat of violence had cut deeply into his business by instilling a climate of fear. A recent and potentially lucrative deal for supplying fresh produce fell through, he said, because the customer was afraid to pick up the fruit and vegetables and he was afraid to deliver.
"Look at my hair," he said when asked his age, gesturing at his white crew cut. "I am 42 and look at my hair, with all these wars. Look at it."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
U.S. and Iraqi authorities secure the scene in Baghdad after a car bomb killed at least 35 people outside a recruiting station and tossed a car onto the median.
(Hussein Malla -- AP)
Friday, 1 p.m. ET: The Post's Jackie Spinner in Baghdad will be online to discuss the situation in Iraq.
Photo Gallery: A car bomb exploded in a tremendous blast outside an Iraqi security forces recruiting station, killing at least 35.
Video Report From Iraq