Attacks Target Iraqi Soldiers and Police
Wednesday, August 2, 2006
BAGHDAD, Aug. 1 -- A series of bombings and shootings, most of them targeting Iraqi soldiers and police, killed at least 44 people in Iraq on Tuesday in a new surge of violence against people charged with stabilizing the country.
The deadliest attack came about 10 a.m. when a roadside bomb exploded under a bus carrying Iraqi soldiers near the northern city of Baiji, killing 23 people and wounding 40 others, according to an Interior Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
At about the same time in Karrada, an upscale commercial district in Baghdad, a suicide car bomber drove into a group of Iraqi soldiers and detonated his payload, an Iraqi police official said. That blast killed 13 people and wounded 26 others, according to the official.
The soldiers had blocked off part of a street in front of the Zuwiyah Bank, where they were collecting their monthly salaries. Any grouping of Iraqi security personnel has become a potential target for insurgent violence.
Smoke billowed up from the blast, which dug a crater in the street about 15 feet across and damaged at least six cars, some reduced to twisted, burned-out shells.
"It is a tragedy," said a retired military officer who gave only his nickname, Abu Mohammed, out of fear for his safety. "I lay down on the ground and remained there until everything was quiet again, while people were running and screaming."
[Early Wednesday, three roadside bombs exploded in central Baghdad near a group of laborers seeking work, killing three people and wounding nine, Reuters cited police sources as saying.]
In Tikrit, about 90 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. Army opened a hearing Tuesday to determine whether four American soldiers must stand trial in the deaths of three Iraqis during a raid in which the soldiers said they were under orders to "kill all military-age males," the Associated Press reported. Staff Sgt. Raymond L. Girouard, Spec. William B. Hunsaker, Pfc. Corey R. Clagett and Spec. Juston R. Graber are accused of murder and other offenses in the May 9 deaths.
Tuesday's attacks came as Iraqi and U.S. officials are planning to add thousands more troops to Baghdad in an attempt to quell the violence. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government imposed a stricter security plan on the capital in June, involving more checkpoints and military patrols, but it has failed to stop the rampant sectarian bloodletting in the city.
Some Karrada residents criticized Iraqi security forces' tactics, saying soldiers and police are not aggressive enough and often passively watch the flow of traffic from their checkpoints rather than search vehicles.
"They are only standing and fanning themselves," said Saied Abbas al-Husseini, a Karrada resident.
The attack in Karrada was the third in recent days to break the relative calm of the predominantly Shiite Muslim neighborhood in central Baghdad.