February 23, 2006
Day two is far worse
than day one with the political crises widening as hundreds of Sunnis
and Shia are killed and Sunni mosques continue to burn.
for Shia and Sunni to hold a joint demonstration protesting against the
violence seen in the past two days were thwarted when a fake police
checkpoint was set up by men in uniforms who then killed many Shia and
than 130 people are reported to have been killed in sectarian violence
that has swept Iraq in the wake of a bomb attack on a major Shia shrine.Aljazeera also wrote of three journalists killed trying to cover Sammara:
In the worst single incident, officials said 47 people who had taken part in a joint Sunni and Shia demonstration in Baghdad against Wednesday's bombing were hauled from their cars and shot dead.
Police said the attackers, who have not been identified, had set up a fake checkpoint on the outskirts of the capital. (Aljazeera.net)
Thursday morning three journalists working for Al-Arabiya television
were found shot dead after being attacked while filming the aftermath
of the bombing in in Samarra.
They included correspondent Atwar Bahjat, a former reporter for Aljazeera.
in Sammara, five Iraqis from the same familiy were shot and killed by
US troops as they attempted to enter predominantly Sunni Samarra
through the northern gates of the city. No further details were
[Baghdad Dweller has an excellent post on two eyewitnesses to the destruction of the Askariya Dome in Sammara; suggested reading]
Diyala, a religiously mixed province northeast of Baghdad, 47 bodies
were found in a ditch. Officials said the victims appeared to have been
stopped by gunmen, forced out of their cars and shot in an industrial
area near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Most were aged
between 20 and 50 and appeared to include both Sunnis and Shiites,
police said. (I do not know if this is the same incident as above - media points to two different locations)
Sadr, Sadrists and more attacks
Muqtada Sadr has ordered his Mehdi Army militia to protect Sunni
mosques in majority Shiite areas in southern Iraq, an official from his
office said on Thursday.
"Moqtada Sadr has ordered the Mehdi
Army to protect Sunni mosques and religious places in Basra and in
other regions" where his movement is influential, Saheb Al Amiri told
However, no such commandment was issued as to the
protection of Sunnis themselves. Sadr's forces clashed in Mahmoudiya,
south of Baghdad, with armed Sunnis. Two civilians were killed and five
militiamen were injured, police Capt. Rashid al-Samaraie said.
also took a shot at the government: "If the government had real
sovereignty, then nothing like this would have happened," al-Sadr said
in a statement. "Brothers in the Mahdi Army must protect all Shiite
shrines and mosques, especially in Samarra."
The Association of
Muslim Scholars said 168 Sunni mosques had been attacked around the
country, with dozens set ablaze and still on fire.
Some 10 imams
have been killed and 15 abducted since the shrine attack. The Interior
Ministry said it could only confirm figures for Baghdad, where it had
reports of 19 mosques attacked, one cleric killed and one abducted.
US military hide, shoot, praise
US military, for its part, in typical cowardly fashion, reported only
seven Sunni mosques attacked. They also denied Iraq was on the brink of
a civil war.
Maybe if they dared get out of their bases they could really find out how far their policies have split Iraq.
According to the Associated Press, the US military was told to hide:
military units in the Baghdad area were told Thursday morning to halt
all but essential travel. Commanders feared that convoys might be
caught up in demonstrations or road blocks.
But Iraq is
foreign territory. Seven US soldiers were killed in two roadside
bombings north of Baghdad Wednesday, the US military said (Jeffrey, you smiling now?) .
Four soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, were killed near Hawija.
Task Force Band of Brothers Soldiers from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat
Team, 4th Infantry Division, were killed near Balad.
military continued its delusional speeches praising the government:
U.S. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch praised the Iraqi government's "capable"
leadership in reaction to the violence, such as enforcing curfews,
calling for calm, recalling security forces on leave, and increasing
security around shrines and political buildings.
He said coalition forces are deployed in reaction to the violence "but they are not in the lead." (CNN)
efforts to approach the crises have amounted to naught as Sunni
legislators demand more protection for their communities.
crisis summit called by President Jalal Talabani was thrown into
turmoil when the biggest Sunni political group, the Iraqi Accordance
Front, boycotted the meeting in protest at what it called the
government's failure to protect Sunni mosques.
government neglected to provide security for our sites," Iyad
al-Samarrai, a front official said, announcing the boycott. "They did
not condemn these acts of aggression."A
spokesman for the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars blamed the
violence on the country's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani, and other Shiite religious leaders who called for
demonstrations against the shrine attack.
Another Front official said it would suspend participation in US-sponsored talks to form a national unity coalition.
Shia leaders of fostering the violence, Tareq al-Hashemi said the Front
would need an apology from the Shia-led government before it would
consider rejoining talks on a national unity coalition.
had called Thursday's meeting at his residence to ease tensions which
he had earlier warned could lead to a "devastating civil war".
"We are facing a major conspiracy that is targeting Iraq's unity," Talabani said on Wednesday.
The meeting went ahead without the presence of Front members.(Aljazeera.net)
also said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad may also have enflamed the
situation when he warned Monday that the United States would not
continue to support institutions run by sectarian groups with links to
armed militias. Sunnis accuse Shiite militiamen operating in the ranks
of the Interior Ministry, which controls the police, of widespread
"Without doubt, these statements mobilized all the
Shiites," al-Kubaisi said. "It made them ready to go down to the street
at any moment." (CNN)