Monday, July 16, 2007

At least 80 dead in Kirkuk bombings

James Burmeister worked at Wal-Mart and in pizza joints in Eugene until he joined the U.S. Army 18 months ago because he wanted to make a difference.
His recruiter told him a tour in Iraq would give him the opportunity to build schools and support war-weary Iraqis, so against the advice of his parents, he signed up.
But once in Iraq, he was assigned to a "small kill" team that set traps for insurgents. They'd place a fake camera on a pole with a sign labeling it as U.S. property, giving the team the right to shoot anyone who messed with it. Burmeister, who provided perimeter security for the team, said he could never get over his distaste for the tactic.

After being wounded by a roadside bomb, he was sent to Germany to recover. In May, on the eve of being sent back to Iraq, Pfc. Burmeister went AWOL -- absent without leave -- taking his family to Ottawa.
The 22-year-old Oregon native is one of about three dozen U.S. soldiers who've applied to Canada for refugee status under the Geneva Conventions. Thousands have deserted since the war began, and many are believed to be living illegally in Canada, officials there said.

The above is from Mark Larabee's "Soldiers still go over the hill even in an all-volunteer Army" (The Oregonian). At the end of last month, Canada's CBC reported on James Burmeister, who self-checked out after serving in Iraq. Brumeister, his wife and their 2-year-old *son* headed to Canada where he is now attempting to be granted refugee status. He told the CBS that, in Iraq, one of his jobs was to "set up traps for Iraqis using an object such as a fake camera as a lure. 'If the Iraqis would go and touch it the [the soldiers] could shoot 'em because if anyone messes with the U.S. government property, they're allowed to fire at 'em'." Burmeister and his family settled in Ottawa as has Ross Spears and the reason for that is the Toronto area already has many war resisters. A thought, by the way. Thinking about who lives where blows apart the US military's already shoddy excuse for crossing over into Canada and posing as Canadian police to harass Canadian citizen Winnie Ng as to Joshua Key's whereabouts. Key doesn't live in Ottawa, doesn't live in Toronto. The new lie (in place of the "never happened" original lie and all the ones that followed) has been that, after reading Key's book The Deserter's Tale, the US military wanted to speak with him about what he observed in Iraq. If they had to go to Winnie Ng's home to look for him, they didn't read the book very closely. Maybe Joby N. Moss and other "deserter control investigators" don't read so well?

In the New York Times this morning, Alissa J. Rubin's "Mistrust as Iraqi Troops Encounter New U.S. Allies" addresses the latest group working with the US military that the US military doesn't trust (and probably the feeling is mutual):

Abu Azzam says the 2,300 men in his movement include members of fierce Sunni groups like the 1920s Revolutionary Brigade and the Mujahedeen Army that have fought the American occupation. Now his men patrol alongside the Americans, who want to turn them into a security force that can bring peace to this stretch between Baghdad and Falluja.
A few miles away, in the town of Abu Ghraib, Brig. Gen. Nassir al-Hiti and his brigade of Iraqi Army soldiers also have the support of the American military. But they have a different ambition, some American commanders here say: doing everything they can to undermine Abu Azzam's men, even using a stolen membership list to single them out for wrongful detention.

Meanwhile, ITV News (out of England) reports a truck bombing and at least one car bombing in Kirkuk has left "at least 80" dead and approximeatly 136 injured. With more on that and some of the violence today in Baghdad, we'll note this from Bushra Juhi (AP):

The attacks began around noon when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed vehicle near the concrete blast walls of the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Soon after, the second bomber attacked the Haseer market, 700 metres away, said Kirkuk police Brig. Sarhat Qadir.
The Haseer market -- an outdoor souq with stalls of vegetable and fruit sellers -- is frequented by Kurds in Kirkuk, a city where tensions are high between the Kurdish and Arab populations. The blast demolished five stalls and 10 cars, and at least 15 people were killed and 75 wounded in both attacks.
In Baghdad, a string of attacks Monday morning killed at least nine people. In the deadliest, a roadside bomb exploded as an Iraqi army patrol passed in the Boub al-Sham area on the city's northeast outskirts, killing five soldiers and wounding nine others, an army officer said.

On the Kirkuk bombings, Alister Bull (Reuters) notes:

A Reuters cameraman on the scene described carnage after the truck bomb in the market, near an office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
The explosion scattered bodies across the market, set dozens of cars on fire and trapped passengers on a bus where they burned to death, the cameraman said.
The car bomb exploded in a commercial area called Iskan, near shops and a bus garage, police said. The two blasts came within minutes of each other, police said.

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[C.I. note: "*son*" not daughter as I wrongly typed. My apologies.]