Yesterday, the BBC reported 100s of thousands protested in Najaf. In the New York Times today, Edward Wong's "Huge Protest in Iraq Demands U.S. Withdraw" goes with "tens of thousands." It's all down hill from there.
Martha notes this from Karin Brulliard's "Learning to Live With the Mahdi Army" (Washington Post):
No, there have been no problems, the police commander was telling the armor-laden American soldiers squeezed into his office in the vast Shiite enclave of Sadr City. Except, he said, for the text-messaged death threats he often received from militia members.
Suddenly the meeting was interrupted by a loud mortar blast, followed by another explosion. A third, thunderous boom rattled the room, sending ripples through the yellow curtains and bringing the U.S. soldiers to their feet.
U.S. military said a rocket pod on a helicopter caught fire and was jettisoned in central Baghdad during fierce clashes between gunmen and Iraqi and U.S. forces. Residents reported seeing helicopters rocket buildings where gunmen were holed up.
And from the BBC:
Meanwhile, the US military has denied earlier reports that a US helicopter had crashed in the centre of the capital.
Iraqi police reported clashes around the scene of the apparent incident, saying the US had sealed the area off.
However, a US military spokesman in Baghdad, Lt Col Christopher Garver, told the BBC that a US helicopter was fired upon but returned safely to its base.
Nothing in the Times prepares you for the chaos that is going on right now (but then, the Times never would). But late yesterday McClatchy Newspapers reported:
Monday evening, as protesters returned in trucks and buses to Baghdad's sprawling Shiite slum of Sadr City, a McClatchy Newspapers reporter saw men in several buses carrying pistols and AK-47s, a violation of new security laws. One man who identified himself as a Mahdi Army member bragged that weapons were being taken from Najaf to Baghdad hidden in truck beds.
AP notes the US helicopter came under fire and the US military's denial that it crashed and they lead with:
A female suicide bomber wearing a black abaya detonated her explosives belt in a crowd of about 200 police recruits northeast of Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 16 people, police and hospital officials said.
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the washington post