Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bad Day In Iraq

As bad as today was for the Bush administration, it was even worse for many Iraqis. Here's a rundown of the news from Iraq. First, a prison break:

MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - Dozens of al Qaeda-led militants stormed an Iraqi jail in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday and freed up to 140 prisoners in one of the biggest prison breaks since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, police said.

As many as 300 militants led by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State in Iraq, attacked Mosul's northwestern Badoush prison just after sunset in the ethnically mixed city and overwhelmed police, who were forced to call the U.S. military for backup, officials said.

Hisham al-Hamdani, a member of the Mosul provincial government, said Abu Omar al-Baghdadi took part in the attack himself. The Islamic State in Iraq is a body set up by al Qaeda's Iraq wing and other Sunni militant groups in October.

Most of the prisoners were believed to be insurgents, police said.

It was unclear if there were any clashes between gunmen and police during the incident.

It's unclear if there were any clashes between gunmen and police during the incident? It sounds like the Iraqi security forces aren't standing up all that strong.

Next story - slaughter in Kerbala:

HILLA, Iraq (Reuters) - Insurgents killed 149 Shi'ite pilgrims heading for the holy Iraqi city of Kerbala on Tuesday, including 115 when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in one of the deadliest attacks of the 4-year war.

The attacks, just over a year after the bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in the city of Samarra, are likely to increase sectarian tensions between majority Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs that are pushing the country to the brink of all-out civil war.

Two suicide bombers strapped with explosives detonated themselves almost simultaneously in a busy street lined with tents in the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, killing 115 people, local hospital officials said.

The tents had been set up to offer food, drink and resting areas for pilgrims. At least 200 people were wounded in that attack, the hospital officials said.

And other incidents of violence in Iraq today:

MOSUL - A car bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol in Mosul killed five and wounded 18, mostly civilians, police said.

BAGHDAD - A car bomb killed 12 Shi'ite pilgrims and wounded 23 others passing through southern Baghdad's Doura district, police said.

KHALIS - Gunmen attacked Turkmen Shi'ite pilgrims heading to the holy city of Kerbala, killing two and wounding 15 in a drive-by shooting near the town of Khalis, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

NEAR UDHAIM - At least three Shi'ite pilgrims were killed and 25 wounded when gunmen opened fire at their convoy near the town of Udhaim, 100 km north of Baghdad, police said.

NEAR TIKRIT - Gunmen killed at least three Shi'ite pilgrims and wounded 10 including women and children, police sources said.

TARMIYA - Gunmen ambushed and killed three Shi'ite pilgrims and wounded 13 others near the town of Tarmiya, 30 km north of Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD - Two bombs targeting Iraqi army checkpoints -- one in eastern Baghdad's Ubaidi district and one near a fine arts college in central Baghdad -- killed four soldiers and two civilians and wounded 11 others, police said.

BAGHDAD - Two car bombs in the mainly Sunni Yarmouk district and in western Baghdad killed six Shi'ite pilgrims and wounded 13 others, police said.

BAGHDAD - Gunmen wounded three civilians and a policeman when they attacked Shi'ite pilgrims in Doura district in southern Baghdad, police said.

Overall, a very, very bloody day today in Iraq. Preznut Bush, of course, doesn't see it that way. Instead, he sees "encouraging signs" that his surge policy is bringing "gradual but important" progress to Iraq.

Uh, huh.

I heard a disturbing bit of info on the radio this evening which I have a problem reconciling with another bit I've heard and read oft repeated. The speaker, who was an expert on military medical treatment, said almost as an aside that there had been more than 50,000 medical evacuations from Iraq. How is that consistant with the repeated claim that there have been only 20,000+ wounded so badly that they could not go back to duty within three days?

50,000 medevacs vs 20,000 seriously wounded? Those numbers simply aren't close enough to be reconcilable in my mind. Any ideas?
My suspicions would be that they're playing with the numbers, kicksiron. They already don't count illnesses and other non-combat related injuries of soldier and marines in Iraq as part of the "wounded in Iraq" statistics. They've definitely been undercounting Iraqi civilian casualties (and probably overcounting body counts for "insurgents.") They cheat every possible chance they get. It sounds like they're fudging the medevac stats too. Have you checked the Iraq Casualties website for info? That might help.


Thanks for the URL -- that helped reconcile the two figures. Even so, adding in medevacs for disease and non-combat injuries, the total documented is only 32,500, well short of what I heard. Maybe the speaker was counting transport personnel, or was just plain wrong.

Reading that site, I was reminded of an old science fiction story where a man's job was to envision each and every holiday highway death for the state's department of transportation's pre-holiday warning to drivers. He was all but driven mad by the horror.

Can you imagine having to update those casualty figures every day? Those numbers represent real people, with lives and kids and sweethearts and kinfolk. War is not just an obscenity -- it's the ultimate obscenity.
Well said, kicksiron. I have icasualties.org bookmarked and I find it an excellent resource for Iraq news as well as the casualties for both American military personnel and Iraqis. But it is depressing to see the numbers.

BTW, that science fiction story you mentioned sounds interesting. What's the title and who's the author?
Sad to say, I can't give you much of a clue about the story. It was a short short, and probably appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine back in the late '50s or early '60s. As to the author, it had the gut-churning quality of Sturgeon, but I couldn't attribute it to him with any certainty. 'Twas a time of giants among authors, and I have a big box of pulps from the period gathering dust in a closet awaiting the time when I have nothing more I can do other than go back and savor.
If you ever come across the title and author, let me know. I love reading old copies of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, btw. When you get around to savoring them, enjoy it. (Currently I'm rereading China Mieville's Perdido Street Station. Have you ever read that novel or anything else by Mieville?)
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?