April 18 : 302 Iraqis Die In Bloodiest Day Of Iraq War
US General said Iraqis Must "Learn To Live With" Car Bombings
So is the US "troop surge" to secure Baghdad working? It hasn't even really begun. To deploy the full "surge" of some 20,000 new troops, which may climb to more than 40,000, will take many more months. It is too early to declare it a success or failure. But in reality, it will never be either.
Iraq is beset by chaos, from new outbreaks of violence down south, through the living hell that is Baghdad, where nearly a thousand people a week are now dying, to the far north, where Iraqi Kurds are teasing the borders of Turkey, and facing the bullets of the Turkish military who may or may not already have crossed the border into Iraq to deal with the Kurdish independence fighters.
That there is some solid, locked-in, six month plan by the US or the Iraqi government to calm the chaos is a fiction. They are rewriting all the plans each week that violence grows, and both entities in Iraq are grasping at surviving the wholesale slaughter.
Despite the influx of fresh US and Iraqi troops into Baghdad, the bombers are still getting through, and the dead are so many, and the violence so frequent, and sudden, corpses are lying in the streets once more.
The purpose of the "troop surge" success or failure debate is strictly for Western media audiences, to distract them from the depopulation of a nation, the destruction of ancient tribes and the assassination of an entire, well-educated middle class, who were the best chance of Iraq rising to become the truly great Middle East nation it deserves to be now that Saddam Hussein is gone.
The US strategy in Iraq seems to now be little more than attempting to wait out the Iraqi insurgency. How long can they possibly keep on bombing and killing each other before they tire of the violence? Or before all those willing to sacrifice their lives, and the lives of innocent Iraqis, are dead? A year? Ten years?
As usual, the UK Independent's veteran reporter Patrick Cockburn supplies the best analysis of what is happening in, and to, Iraq :
Yesterday (April 18) will go down as a day of infamy for Iraqis who are repeatedly told by the US that their security is improving. Almost 200 people were killed on one of the bloodiest days of the four-year-old war, when car bombs ripped through four neighbourhoods across Baghdad, exposing the failure of the two-month-old US security plan.
In the aftermath of the blasts, American and Iraqi soldiers who rushed to the scene of the explosions were pelted with stones by angry crowds shouting: "Where is the security plan? We are not protected by this plan."
Billowing clouds of oily black smoke rose into the sky over the Iraqi capital after four bombs tore through crowded markets and streets leaving the ground covered in charred bodies and severed limbs. "I saw dozens of dead bodies," said a witness in Sadriyah, a mixed Shia-Kurdish neighbourhood in west Baghdad where 140 people died and 150 were injured. " Some people were burned alive inside minibuses. Nobody could reach them after the explosion. There were pieces of flesh all over the place. Women were screaming and shouting for their loved ones who died."
The escalation in devastating bomb attacks by Sunni insurgents against Shia civilians is discrediting the US security plan, implemented by a "surge" in American troop numbers. Launched on 14 February it was intended to give the Iraqi government greater control over the streets of Baghdad. The Mehdi Army Shia militia, blamed for operating death squads against Sunni civilians, had adopted a lower profile and avoided military confrontation with the US but that is unlikely to continue in the wake of these devastating bomb attacks. The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is seen as being unable to defend his own people.
The worst attack was on Sadriyah meat and vegetable market in the centre of Baghdad. It had already been the target of one of Baghdad's worst atrocities when a suicide bomber blew up a Mercedes truck on 3 February, killing 137 people.
There is no doubt that the bombs were directed at killing as many Shia civilians as possible. About half an hour before the Sadriyah blast, a suicide bomber had rammed a police checkpoint at the entrance to the great Shia bastion in Sadr City in east Baghdad. It is also the stronghold of the Shia nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The explosion killed 35 people and wounded 75, police say. Black smoke rose from blazing vehicles as people scrambled over the twisted wreckage of cars to try to rescue the wounded.
"The problem is that the Shia stopped killing so many Sunni but the Sunni are killing more Shia than ever," said an Iraqi official before the attacks yesterday. He added: "If this goes on, the Shia will exact revenge. Sectarian massacres will dwarf anything we have seen before."
The bombings came hours after Mr Maliki said that Iraqi security forces would take full control of the whole country by the end of the year. But last night, amid a torrent of public criticism, the Prime Minister ordered the arrest of the Iraqi army colonel in charge of security around the Sadriyah market.
The 17-million strong Shia community, the majority of the Iraqi population, is increasingly hostile to the US presence while the five million Sunni generally support anti- American armed resistance. Only the Kurds fully back the US.
The success of the US security plan in Baghdad depended less on an additional five American brigades than in fostering a belief by Iraqis that it was providing them with security.
2007: A year of attacks despite the 'surge'
* 16 JANUARY
Car bomb and suicide bomber at Mustansiriya University, central Baghdad, kill at least 70, mainly students.
* 22 JANUARY
Double car bomb at a second-hand goods market in Bab al-Sharji, central Baghdad, kills 88.
* 1 FEBRUARY
Two suicide bombers strike at a market in Shia town of Hilla, killing 61.
* 3 FEBRUARY
Truck bomb kills 135 and wounds 305 at a market in Sadriya quarter of central Baghdad, the same market that was bombed yesterday.
* 12 FEBRUARY
Multiple car bombs explode in Shorja market, Baghdad, killing at least 71. At least nine others killed at Bab al-Sharji.
* 6 MARCH
Two suicide bombers strike in Hilla, killing 105 pilgrims. Insurgents attack Shia pilgrims in 12 other incidents. In all, a total of 137 pilgrims die.
* 27 MARCH
Two truck bombs explode in Tal Afar, near Syrian border, and Mosul; 152 dead.
A comprehensive summary of the string of attacks and assassinations of April 18 is supplied by the AntiWar.com site, whose tally comes to 302 Iraqis killed or found dead, and more than 300 wounded. We publish this summary in full as to present a more comprehensive picture of just how much violence occurs in Iraq on a given day, this one being April 18 :
A series of coordinated bomb attacks shook Baghdad hours after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that security would be in Iraqi hands by the end of the year. Overall, at least 312 people were killed and 302 wounded throughout Iraq. One American soldier died yesterday of non-battle related injuries.
In Baghdad, one truck bomb killed 140 people and wounded 150 more in the mostly Shi’ite Sadriya neighborhood. A second bomb killed 41 and wounded 76 in Sadr City. In Karrada, the third bomb killed 11 and wounded 13 more. Two were killed and eight wounded in a checkpoint bombing in Saidiya. And, a bomb in a mini-bus in Risafi killed four and wounded six people.
Also in the capital, gunmen killed a police major who also worked a security detail for the Speaker of Parliament. Four policemen were killed and six civilians wounded during an attack by gunmen in central Baghdad. Mortars in Amil wounded three civilians. And, 15 dumped bodies were recovered.
Another 25 decomposed bodies were retrieved from a school in Ramadi. Yesterday, 17 bodies had been discovered.
A suicide bomber injured seven people southwest of Mosul at al-Ghayah. Two brothers were killed and a policeman was wounded in a gunbattle in central Mosul. Mortars rained on a security checkpoing where they injured eight people. Two people were killed, three wounded in a roadside bomb attack. An explosive device killed senior Iraqi army officer and wounded three soldiers. Also, eight bodies were found in Mosul.
A suicide bomber killed two policemen and wounded four people, including two civilians, near Mahmudiya.
A policeman and a soldier were wounded during multiple checkpoint attacks in Tal Afar.
Two farmers died of injuries they received in a U.S. attack in Al Bo Asi Al Abagiyah village.
Three bodies were found in separate locations near Baquba.
Five civilians were injured in Khanaqeen.
The bodies of three kidnapped workers were found in Hawija.
The Basra homes of three Fadhila party members were attacked by bombs, but no casualties were reported.
Three people were injured on Tuesday when a roadside bomb struck an ambulance near Mukayshifah.
During U.S. military raids in Taji, one suspect was killed and eight others were detained. Near Garma, five suspects were killed and 18 arrested. The Iraq army killed six suspects and captured 126 others during operations throughout the country. Three gunmen were killed in Muqdadiya. Combined U.S.-Iraqi forces killed 23 gunmen during security operations in Diyala.
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