Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Iraq today?  Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) sums it up as follows: "A civil war between Sunni and Shia Muslims is spreading rapidly through central Iraq, with each community seeking revenge for the latest massacre."  That pretty much describes life on the ground.  There's also more news in the inquiry to the death of Jake Kovco as well as news on Medea Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan.
Outside Baghdad's Technology Institute, three bombs went off.  AFP notes that a "police patrol" had just passed by and that the interior ministry of Iraq is saying that police were the targets of the bombings. Reuters reports five dead and 22 wounded in the three bombs -- first came the car bomb, then two others went off "apparently targeting a crowd that gathered at the scene."
The other single event getting the most press attention at this time is the kidnapping of  at least 19 people.  Al Jazeera explains that fourteen were kidnapped on Tuesday "by gunmen in civilian clothes" and that an additional five were traveling in a vehicle, forced off the road, and then kidnapped.  The Associated Press reports that the twenty (they go with the figure of 20) were all employees of the Sunni Endowment and that the agency's response has been to announce they "would stop working effective immediately and that its chairman, Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samaraie, would give more details later." (Reuters also goes with the figure of 19 kidnapped and it taking place yesterday and today.)
Elsewhere, Reuters reports that mortar rounds have claimed the life of a two-month-old child and left another child and one adult wounded and that a bombing in Kirkuk has left at least four dead and at least 16 wounded.  CBS and the AP note a roadside bombing in Kirkuk that took the lives of two.
AFP reports that Major General Fakhr Abdel Hussein was killed in Baghdad ("in front of his home").  AFP notes that he was "[t]he head of the interior ministry's justice office".  In Najaf, Reuters covers the death of the owner of "a women's hair salon" and notes that 3 are dead and 11 wounded after a market was stormed by assailants. AFP also notes: "Gunmen in the eastern suburb of Baghdad Jadida opened fir on a store selling vegetables, killing four people inside.  They then planted explosives inside the store and blew it to pieces."  Also in Balad, AFP reports, a home invasion has left a child dead and a woman wounded.
Reuters notes a corpse ("gunshot wounds") discovered in Mosul as well as 18 corpses discovered in Mahmudiya ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture").  Meanwhile the AFP reports that six corpses were discovered in Baghdad and one in Karbala.
Addressing the UN report that found almost 6,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the months of May and June on  The KPFA Evening News yesterday, Max Pringle noted that: "In the first six months of the year it said 14,338 people had been killed. The UN report also details the rise in kidnappings particularly of large groups of people. In addition women report that their rights have been rolled back by religious muslim groups both Shi and Sunni.  They say that their social freedoms have decreased since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and they are now barred from going to the market alone, wearing pants and driving cars."
Brian Edwards-Tiekert also addressed the report today on KPFA's The Morning Show , noting that it indicates that "violence is claiming more lives in Iraq now than at any time since the US invasion of that country.  The UN estimates 100 Iraqis are dying a day" 
Speaking of the report yesterday, UN Secretary-General spokesperson Farhan Haq noted that "the report raises alarm at the growing number of casualities among the civilian population killed or wounded" and that's a thought echoing in today's press with some noting occupation puppet Nouri al-Maliki's statement from last week that Iraq was getting it's "last chance" or Hoshiyar Zebari's assertion that "months" remain before "all-out civil war" breaks out.
Turning to Australia and the case of Jake Kovco who died in Iraq on April 21st, the inquiry into the events of his final moments continue.  Dan Box (The Australian) reports that: "HOMICIDE detectives will trave to Baghdad to take DNA samples from soldiers who served with Private Jake Kovco after tests revealed unidentified DNA samples on the trigger of the gun that killed him."  Speaking on The World Today (Australia's ABC) with host Eleanor Hall, Conor Duffy reported that Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes found "what . . . [he] called a gross amount of someone else's DNA, and that DNA was on the trigger of the gun, the slide and on the grip."  Australia's ABC reports that: "As many as 30 Australian soldiers in Baghdad could be DNA tested."  Dan Box also reports that the two roommates of Jake Kovco will testify to the board next week "by videolink" from Baghdad.  Judy and Martin Kovco, Jake's parents, have been fighting to have soldiers serving with their late son called to testify before the inquiry -- though the testimony will be by "videolink," the 'win' on this is due to their persistence.
And in peace news, Matthew Cardinale (Atlanta Progressive News) reports on Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin's visit to Atlanta to show their support for Cynthia McKinney in her primary bid (McKinney won the most vote but now faces Hank Johnson in a primary runoff). Medea Benjamin states: "The peace movement is aat a very critical juncture because on one hand, we have managed to capture public opinion.  Most people think the Invasion of Iraq was a mistake and want the troops home at the end of the year.  72% of troops themselves say this.  You can't continue to have politicians voting for the war.  What's new on this is the Iraqi said, not just Iraqi people, but the  [Iraqi] President, Vice President, and National Security Advisor".
Medea Benjamin and Cindy Sheehan continue their fast as part of the Troops Home Fast protest.  From CODEPINK:
TROOPS HOME FAST! On July 4, we launched an historic hunger strike called TROOPS HOME FAST in Washington, DC in front of the White House. While many Americans expressed their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we're fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. We're inviting people around the world to show their support for this open-ended fast by fasting for at least one day. Read an interview with Diane Wilson to learn more. Please sign here to to support us and encourage your friends to do the same. Click here to view photos, and read our blogs!
The fast is ongoing, anyone can join at any time, for a single day or more.
Finally, the BBC reports that four more people kidnapped from the "meeting of the Iraqi Olympic Committee last week" have been released and that the number of those released is now nine.

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