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Baghdad Morgue Daily Visit for Iraqis

IslamOnline.net

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BAGHDAD, May 6, 2006 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) ľ The aging and gloomy Baghdad morgue has become the last stop for many Iraqis, who desperately search for their loved ones brutally killed in the tit-for-tat sectarian attacks that recently plagued the occupied country.

"I came to search for my neighbor who was kidnapped three days ago," an Iraqi man standing at the morgue's iron gate waiting to be allowed inside the complex, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Saturday, May 6.

"He was found yesterday with three bullets in the body. He was also tortured. There were signs of electric shocks on his body."

Another friend of the victim said his friend had been murdered in a sectarian attack.

"His name was Ali Hassan Al-Duri. He was 36 years of age and had two children," he noted.

"He was killed because he was a Sunni and he lived in Sadr City," he added, referring to the Shiite suburb in the south of Baghdad.

Hundreds of Iraqis, mostly Sunnis, were killed in reprisal attacks triggered by the bombing of the Imam Ali Al-Hadi in Samarra in March.

The sectarian bloodshed has prompted a redrawing of some neighborhoods, with minorities moving out and going to places where they are part of the majority community.

It has also prompted many Iraqis to change names to spare themselves the sectarian hell.

Long Queues

Hundreds of Iraqis, Sunnis and Shiites alike, are queuing in front of the morgue every day, waiting outside the morgue and covering their noses with handkerchiefs or pieces of cloth to avoid the stench emerging from deep inside.

"He came from Samarra to sell vegetables in Baghdad," a woman dressed in a full-length black abaya (traditional robe), said of her nephew.

"He was kidnapped with his two friends. Their bodies have already been found after they were shot," she said, fighting back tears.

The morgue deputy director said an average of 35 to 50 bodies, most of them with gunshot wounds, are brought to the building day in and day out.

A police officer accompanying the body of one of the civil war victims said his police station brings to the morgue at least two or three bodies a day as his colleagues arrived in a pickup truck, entering the morgue with a body found in the Shiite district of Habibiyah in eastern Baghdad.

The morgue usually dispatches unclaimed corpses after several weeks to the southern cities of Najaf or Karbala for burial.

But it retains photographs of each of the buried, in case of a late claim by relatives.

"For a week we have been searching hospitals, morgues, police stations... to find the body of Rafet Ibrahim and we finally find him here," an old man said of his cousin.

The victim, a father of a baby girl, had worked with a local electricity firm and lived in Baghdad, but was kidnapped and killed near Taji, north of the capital.

Iraqi Sunnis accused the outgoing government of Ibrahim Jaafari of sanctioning militia "death squads" against their community and condoning the systematic killing of their fellow ones.

US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has said that militias, many with strong ties to powerful Shiite leaders and well entrenched in security and police forces, are killing more Iraqis than "terrorists."

The International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report issued in February that only the introduction of significant changes to the Iraqi "sectarian" constitution and disbanding government-condoned militias can help ward off a deadly civil war.


:: Article nr. 23121 sent on 07-may-2006 03:26 ECT

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Link: www.islam-online.net/English/News/2006-05/06/article04.shtml



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