Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kirkuk slammed with bombings

Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports three Kirkuk bombings today have resulted in at least 27 deaths with sixty-nine more left injured. Fang Yang (Xinhua) adds, "The attack took place in the morning rush hours when a sticky bomb attached to a car detonated at a parking lot in front of a police headquarters in central the city of Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad, the source said. Afterwards, a booby-trapped car parked at the scene went off as Iraqi security forces and dozens of onlookers gathered at the site of the first blast, the source added." Mustafa Mahmoud (Reuters) quotes police officer Talib Jabar, "I was on my way into police headquarters and suddenly I fell to the ground, but did not feel anything because I lost consciousness. When I woke up I found myself in the hospital with doctors around me and I was bleeding everywhere." Yahya Barzanji (AP) quotes Adnan Karim stating, "I saw a lot of dead bodies, burned dead bodies."

The BBC notes that those harmed included many police officers. NPR's hourly news brief also notes of the deat that "most of them [were] police officers." Jack Healy (New York Times) recaps, "The attackers used a now-familiar tactic, detonating a small improvised explosive device attached to a sedan in a parking lot outside the local police headquarters. After police rushed to the scene, a larger car bomb went off, killing 17 officers and 11 civilians." Tim Craig and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) provide this context, "The attack came a day after Iraqi security officials announced they had captured several local leaders with suspected ties to al Qaeda. It was one of several in Iraq Thursday, most of which appeared aimed at police officers."

The oil rich region of Kirkuk is disputed with the KRG and the central 'government' out of Baghdad both insisting they have dibs on the region. Under Saddam Hussein, Kurds were expelled from the region and, since the start of the Iraq War, the KRG has made efforts to ship Kurds into the region. Iraq's Constitution (passed and ratified in 2005) explained how the issue would be settled (refer to Article 140): By 2007,, a census and referendum would have taken place -- leaving the issue up to the inhabits of the region. But, check the calendars, it's 2011, four years after the referendum was supposed to take place and it never has. Nouri al-Maliki was supposed to have overseen it but he was either unable or unwilling to do so. He continually pushed the date back. It was most recently supposed to have taken place in December of 2010. He made that promise while seeking to continue as prime minister. In November, he became prime minister-designate. Almost immediately, he then cancelled the scheduled census.

In the New York Times, Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt find a protest to cover:

The protesters are gone from the central square, pushed out by the brutal tactics of the security forces. The jails have been emptied of the young students and journalists who were rounded up for speaking their mind in public. The wounded are home, quietly nursing their injuries.

That's the opening. The report focuses on the KRG. Tomorrow protests again take place in Baghdad. Hoepfully, they will also be covered.

We'll close with this from Jason Ditz ( on the administration's back up plan (if they can't get an extension of the SOFA or a new agreement, they shove military and contractors under the State Dept):

Rather the US State Department is looking to dramatically escalate the number of “security contractors” deployed to the nation, with officials saying the goal is to have around 5,000 such fighters in Iraq by December. This is more than double the number of security contractors currently in Iraq.

In practice this will mean the State Department will have its own “private” army operating in Iraq, with a myriad of contracting firms looking to catch big contracts for sending the forces abroad.

In addition Reuters notes a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 cleric and left two other people injured and a Baquba car bombing which claimed two lives and left ten people injured.

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