Thursday, December 22, 2011

Baghdad slammed with bombings

Baghdad is slammed with bombings today leaving many dead and injured. Early on Ziad Tarek, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, was telling Alsumaria TV, "Baghdad hospitals received this morning bodies of 49 dead and 167 wounded, following explosions that occurred in different regions of Baghdad." For those paying attention to Iraq this week, it's not all the surprising. For those who count on the commercial broadcast networks for their news they'll be scratching their heads if they hear -- maybe a passing pigeon will bring them the news? -- about the bombings because Iraq just doesn't exist on the network news these days.

Prashant Rao (AFP)explains in this France 24 video, "All over the city, both majority Sunni and majority Shia areas have been targeted in mostly bomb attacks [. . .] basically all over Baghdad, we've seen multiple attacks."

Charlie D'Agata (The Early Show, CBS News) reports, "The first explosion rang out just after dawn. Then came another. And another. Iraqi officials counted at least 14 blasts throughout Baghdad during the morning rush hour. The targets were indiscriminate. Roadside bombs and car bombs struck everything from neighborhood markets to police stations. A suicide bomber in an ambulance killed 18 people alone." And, video below, he goes on to explain what's been taking place in the last few days -- something CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley repeatedly refuses to do.

The dead were still being counted when Nouri al-Maliki attempted to make political hay out of the tragedy. Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports, "Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that Thursday's series of bomb attacks in Baghdad were politically motivated, pledging that the attacks will not pass without punishment." US Senator John McCain was already booked on The Early Show (CBS News) to talk about the payroll tax and the GOP's presidential nominee race. We'll note this from the opening of the segment.

Senator John McCain: Thank you, good to be with you and before we go on we are paying a very heavy price in Baghdad because of our failure to have a residual force there. It's unraveling. I'm deeply disturbed about events but not surprised.

Chris Wragge: Well that's what I wanted to ask you about -- we'll talk about the payroll tax in just a second but that was the first question I was going to pose to you this morning. When you heard about these cooridnated attacks in and around Baghdad was this a kind of I-told-you-so moment, did you feel in your estimation?

Senator John McCain: I'm afraid so. I'd hoped not. But it was pretty obvious that if we did not have a residual force there that things could unravel very quickly. All of us knew that. The president campaigned saying he would bring around the end of the war. They've already got propaganda out there called "Promises Kept." And he made some very interesting comments about we're leaving behind a stable Iraq which we know is obviously not true. We needed the residual force there. It's not there. Now things are unraveling tragically.

Chris Wragge: How big a mistake do you see this for the president?

Senator John McCain: Well I don't know about the president but I know the Iraqi people may be subject to the news reports that you just quoted this morning and it's tragic for them. And of course, as you mentioned on the lead-in, we did 4,474 young Americans died there. It's really sad the way that they have -- As General [John] Keane said, "We won the war and we're losing the peace."

Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) notes 57 dead and 179 injured as the current tallies
and adds, "The worst single incident this morning was a suicide attack near a government office in which a stolen ambulance packed with explosives was detonated by its driver, sending debris into the air and into the grounds of a nearby kindergarten. Police said at least 18 people were killed in that bombing alone." Al Rafidayn reports that one Ali Abu Nailah, Iraqi Central Bank Consultant, is thought to have been targeted with a bombing on his convoy just outside of Baghdad (Nailah survived without injury but one of his bodyguards was injured). Sam Dagher and Ali Nabhan (Wall St. Journal) note, "The latest spasm of violence came one day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned his coalition partners that any moves to bring down the government would unravel the political system and lead to a situation where the majority Shiites decide the shape of the government on their own." Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) offers, "The bombings may be linked more to the U.S. withdrawal than the political crisis, but all together the developments heighten fears of a new round of sectarian bloodshed like the one a few years ago that pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war." Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "The explosions occurred in a variety of locations around the Iraqi capital, some Shiite and others Sunni, giving no clear indication who was behind it. The casualties were believed to be almost entirely civilians.

The death and wounded tolls are expected to rise.

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