Three coordinated car bombs ripped through the main street of this southern city Wednesday, killing as many as 42 people and wounding at least 125 in the largest bombing in Iraq since August.
The police chief of the predominantly Shiite Muslim city, which had never been struck by a car bomb before, was immediately fired for negligence amid accusations that the police had been infiltrated, though by whom was unclear. A curfew was imposed.
"Amarah has never seen such an explosion before," said Abdel Karim Khalaf, the chief spokesman for Iraq's Interior Ministry, who was dispatched to Amarah from Baghdad, 200 miles to the northwest. "A triple explosion surely indicates that the security forces have been infiltrated. This situation is very dangerous and has to be remedied."
The above is from Ali al Basri and Leila Fadel's "Rare car bombs in southern Iraq kill at least 42" (McClatchy Newspapers) and we're just going to do a cutting on this topic from various outlets for this entry. On the aftermath, from Damien Cave and Khalid al-Ansary (New York Times):
"I saw human flesh flying here and there," said Zahra Muhammad Hussein, 53, who was struck by the bomb's blast while hailing a taxi. "It was a huge explosion. I lost consciousness and felt that the earth has swallowed me."
Witnesses said the first car bomb exploded in a parking garage on one of the city's busiest streets. When crowds rushed to help the victims, the second and third bombs -- in parked cars nearby -- blew up, shattering glass in stores and sending a thick plume of smoke into the air.
"I saw the explosion, and it was horrific," said one witness, Muhammad Abdul-Hussein. "The first car exploded. Then five minutes after that, the second exploded, and as people gathered to help evacuate the casualties, there was a third."
From Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times):
The blasts reverberated across the city, said Mohammed Alaq, a barber who came running to look for his mother. She left home in the morning to go shopping and had not been heard from since.
"We are very worried about her because the cellphones are not working now for unknown reasons. So all of my brothers and I scattered in different directions looking for her," he said. "All the people are shocked and can't believe that their safe city was targeted in this bloody way."
[. . .]
Meanwhile, rumors spread through the city that U.S.-led forces, bent on taking control of Maysan, were to blame. The city is a stronghold of anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr. His followers have clashed here with police, whose upper echelons are dominated by a rival militia.
What happened to that turned corner? It was never turned. But elected leaders and candidates lost interest and much of the press lost interest and the White House was doing their usual Operation Happy Talk dance and, goodness knows, most independent media can't be bothered to talk about Iraq, let along cover it, so it was time to move on to another topic they could bungle. In England, Vincent Cable ("Acting Liberal Democrat leader") had some tough questions for the prime minister. Polly notes this from the BBC:
During the final prime minister's questions before Christmas, Mr Cable asked Mr Brown: "Isn't the real disaster, for which the prime minister has personal responsibility, the continuing tragedy in Iraq?
"When he was in Basra this week was he told that 40 women, at least, have been executed for personal immorality.
"And is this why 173 British troops have died? Transferring power from the fascist regime of Saddam Hussein to the terror of the fascist militia who run the streets of Basra."
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