Witnesses said more than 50 gunmen arrived at the Ministry of Higher Education compound at mid-morning, forced their way past a handful of guards and stormed through a four-story building, herding office workers, visitors and even a delivery boy outside at rifle point. After women were separated, the men and possibly some women were loaded aboard a fleet of more than 30 pickup trucks and two larger trucks, then driven away through heavy traffic towards mainly Shiite neighborhoods on the city's eastern edge, officials and witnesses said.
A spokesman for the interior ministry, responsible for the police, announced on state television several hours after the abductions that orders had been issued for the arrest of several police commanders from the Karrada area in eastern Baghdad, site of the higher education ministry.
That announcement combined with other details, including accounts by one of a group of about a dozen people released by the kidnappers later on Tuesday, to suggest that the abductions may have been the latest in a series of mass kidnappings carried out by Shiite gangs and death squads operating from inside the interior ministry, or with access to its uniforms and vehicles. If Tuesday's abductions are traced to groups operating under interior ministry cover, they seem certain to add a new level of crisis to the political tensions in Baghdad.
The above is from John F. Burns and Michael Luo's "Arrest of Iraqi Police Officials Ordered After Kidnapping" in this morning's New York Times. They're covering yesterday's kidnapping. The numbers are still not clear. (Which Burns and Luo note in their article.) The puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, keeps crowing fifty. With some reports of over forty kidnap victims being released, fifty seems unlikely. Martha notes Sudarsan Raghavan's "Scores Kidnapped At Iraqi Ministry" (Washington Post):
Signs of the abduction were everywhere. A splatter of blood smeared on the gray floor. A black telephone, yanked out of its socket, tangled in a mess of cords. The dirt outlines of boot prints on a door the kidnappers had kicked. And at the reception desk, next to a pile of papers, a single pink rose, abandoned in the chaos.
This was the scene Tuesday at an Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education building, one hour after a small army of 80 gunmen, dressed in police uniforms, staged a swift, brazen daylight raid, seizing scores of employees and visitors.
It was one of the largest mass abductions since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, startling even by the standards of a nation reeling from sectarian strife, daily bombings and death squads. The last high-profile mass kidnapping occurred in July, when gunmen seized more than 30 people from an Iraqi Olympics Committee meeting. Six were later released, but the fate of the rest is still unknown.
Tuesday's incident was a well-orchestrated reminder of how challenging basic security remains in Iraq at a time when U.S. officials are pressing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to assert more control. The abductions came on a day when at least 117 people were killed in car bombings, clashes and other violence around the country.
For the two visitors asking for proof about the blood mentioned in yesterday's snapshot, there you go. For everyone else, note that along with the kidnapping, the death toll rose from 82 to 117. So as you go about your day reading stories on independent magazine websites or listening to programs, see how often Iraq is anything other than a shout out? (If even that.) By their silence, they allow the 'stay the course' crowd to push their nonsense (under new slogans, but it's the same old nonsense). Case in point, War Pornograph Michael R. Gordon gets all itchy in the crotch this morning reporting on ex-general Zinni's assertion that not only can US forces not leave Iraq but also that more US troops need to be deployed to Iraq.
See that's why you don't hide behind generals to make your point that the illegal war needs to end. That's why you don't do dopey cover stories about them and their so-called 'revolt' and chalk that up as "We covered Iraq!" No, you didn't.
All you did was reveal how foolish and historically ignorant you are. The immaturity of a number of people in charge of independent media is showing -- too young to have come of age during Vietnam, they've internalized the revisionist history and shake and quake over actually taking a stand. So they try to find 'respectable' and 'acceptable' ways to say the war is wrong without, as the saying used to go, putting themselves out there. Generals rarely call for an end to war. And those pushing the nonsense that their alleged 'revolt' was somehow an anti-war movement really need to educate themselves before they do more damage again.
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the new york times
john f. burns
the washington post