Wearing their flowing black garments, they can carry hidden explosives past most checkpoints because customs of modesty prevent male guards from frisking them. On Monday, four female suicide bombers in two Iraqi cities used this tactic to enter areas defended by hundreds of soldiers and police officers.
The above is the opening of Sudarsan Raghavan's "Four Women Kill Dozens In Suicide Blasts in Iraq: Kurdish Protest Hit in Kirkuk; Shiites Targeted in Baghdad" (Washington Post)and the focus is on the the bombings in Baghdad and the bombing in Kirkuk. As for women, maybe now is a good time to ask why the US government thought it was okay to pay female "Awakening" Council members 20% less than their male counterparts? But that question will probably never be explored. You'll note that many outlets (CNN among them) are tacking on the female "Awakening" Council members angle to this story -- but no one seems to mention (let alone question) the fact that they're being paid 20% less. (For the record, this community does not support putting thugs on the payroll. We are noting that the US government is sending a strong -- and bad -- message when they pay Iraqi women 20% less for the same job.) Like the Post, the New York Times front pages the bombings via Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Sabrina Tavernise's "Bombers and Ethnic Clashes Kill 61 in Iraq" which really focuses more on Kirkuk and part of the reason for that may be due to what followed the bombing in Kirkuk:
No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, which bore the hallmarks of Sunni Arab extremists. Nonetheless, many in the crowd blamed Turkmen extremists for the attack, and within minutes a mob of enraged Kurds began attacking Turkmen political offices and setting their buildings ablaze.
"They burned Turkmen buildings and they burned many cars," said Brig. Burhan Taha of the Kirkuk police.
Gunfire and rocks from the mob wounded at least 25 Turkmen guards, according to the Kirkuk police. The guards -- some armed with machine guns -- returned fire, killing at least 12 Kurds in the mob. An additional 102 people were wounded in the melee that followed the bombing, the police said, though it was not clear how many were shot by Turkmen guards or wounded by other violence.
Another senior Kirkuk police commander, Brig. Sarhad Qadir, said the mob that attacked the Turkmens included members of the Asaish, a Kurdish security force, who were not in uniform but were carrying weapons.
Iraqi MP Saadeddin Arkej is quoted stating, "I can't practice democracy at the Parliament while the dictatorship is attacking and burning the headquarters of the Turkmen Front in Kirkuk and burning and looting other Turkmen establishments." Tavernise and Oppel also note that the province's governor has requested United Nations troops on the ground.
In both Baghdad and Kirkuk, fingers were pointed. Baghdad may have seen retaliation violence aimed at those perceived to be responsible; however, Baghdad violence is so common that it's rarely of interest to reporters these days (or columnists -- hold on for the next entry) and it's also true that an attack on Shi'ite Pilgrims that enraged the Shi'ite controlled city of Baghdad would most likely result in retaliation that was kept 'underground'. (In other words, corpses found two or three days from now -- or maybe a mass grave in a few months.) Caesar Ahmed and Ned Parker's "Bombings kill dozens in Baghdad, Kirkuk" (Los Angeles Times):
Ordinary residents in Kirkuk worried about the aftermath of Monday's bombing and mob violence. "Today's events will create a big crisis. A solution for the Kirkuk issue must be found," said Burhan Shirko Qadir, a Kurdish merchant.
Turkmens were seething. Turkmen Front local leader Nazhat Abdul-Ghani said four party members had been wounded and seven others kidnapped.
"Today the Kirkuk issue took a dangerous turn," said Jankeez Yousif, a Turkmen who works in the oil industry. He bitterly criticized Iraqi security forces in the city, which he accused of being an extension of the Kurdish political parties -- a common complaint voiced by groups in the north. All sides blamed outsiders for carrying out the bombing.
In Baghdad, militants turned their attention to the country's Shiite majority. Three female suicide bombers blew themselves up over the course of an hour, targeting Shiite faithful on their way to a sacred shrine. At least 32 people were killed and 102 wounded. About a million Shiites were expected for the event commemorating the death in 799 of a religious leader regarded by Shiites as a saint.
Dean Yates and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) place the death toll of the bombings at 58 and the number wounded at 250. The New York Times places the death toll at 61 and the wounded at 238.
Micah notes this new video from the Ralph Nader presidential campaign.
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