Skip to comments.New savage twist to violence in Baghdad
Posted on 11/24/2006 5:14:53 PM PST by Dubya
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Revenge-seeking Shiite militiamen seized six Sunnis as they left Friday prayers, drenched them with kerosene and burned them alive, and Iraqi soldiers did nothing to stop the attack, police and witnesses said.
The fiery slayings in the mainly Sunni neighborhood of Hurriyah were a dramatic escalation of the brutality coursing through the Iraqi capital, coming a day after suspected Sunni insurgents killed 215 people in Baghdad's main Shiite district with a combination of bombs and mortars.
The attacks culminated Baghdad's deadliest week of sectarian fighting since the war began more than three years ago.
Police Capt. Jamil Hussein said Iraqi soldiers at a nearby army post failed to intervene in the burnings of Sunnis carried out by suspected members of the Shiite Mahdi Army militia, or in subsequent attacks that torched four Sunni mosques and killed at least 19 other Sunnis, including women and children, in the same northwest Baghdad area.
Imad al-Hasimi, a Sunni elder in Hurriyah, confirmed Hussein's account. He told Al-Arabiya television he saw people who were soaked in kerosene, then set afire, burning before his eyes.
Two workers at Kazamiyah Hospital said the bodies from the clashes and immolations had been taken to the morgue at their facility. They refused to be identified by name, saying they feared retribution.
In spite of the police and witness accounts, however, President Jamal Talabani appeared to discount the reports. He emerged from meetings with other Iraqi political leaders late Friday and said Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obaidi told him that the Hurriyah neighborhood had been quiet throughout the day.
According to Hussein, the police official, militiamen rampaged through the district, setting fire to several homes in addition to the four mosques that were bombed and burned.
Some residents claimed that the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has begun kidnapping and holding Sunni hostages in order to slaughter them at funerals of Shiite victims of Baghdad's sectarian violence.
Such claims cannot be verified but speak to the deep fear that grips Baghdad, where retaliation has become a part of daily life.
In the past year, thousands of bodies have been found dumped across Baghdad and other cities in central Iraq, victims who were tortured, then shot to death, according to police. The suspected militia killers often have used electric drills on their captives' bodies before killing them. The bodies are frequently decapitated.
Burning victims alive, however, introduced a new method of brutality that seemed likely to be reciprocated by the other sect as the Shiites and Sunnis continue killing one another in unprecedented numbers. The attack, which came despite a curfew in Baghdad, capped a day in which at least 87 people were killed or found dead in sectarian violence across Iraq.
The Association of Muslim Scholars, the most influential Sunni organization in Iraq, said even more Sunni victims were killed. It claimed a total of 18 people had died in an inferno at the al-Muhaimin mosque.
The extreme violence continued to tear at the Iraq's social fabric even after the government had banned pedestrians and cars from the streets and closed the international airport until further notice in anticipation of a storm of retaliation for the five bombings and two mortar rounds that killed 215 in Sadr City on Thursday.
The airport closure forced Talabani to delay his planned Saturday departure for Tehran for meetings with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian leader also invited Syrian President Bashar Assad, but it now appeared he would not attend.
The chaos also cast a shadow over the Amman, Jordan, summit next week between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Bush.
Politicians loyal to al-Sadr threatened to boycott parliament and the Cabinet if al-Maliki went ahead with the meeting. The radical Shiite political bloc, known as Sadrists, is a mainstay of support for al-Maliki, himself a Shiite. The Mahdi Army is the organization's armed wing.
Sadrist lawmaker Qusai Abdul-Wahab blamed U.S. forces for Thursday's attack in Sadr City because they failed to provide security.
"We say occupation forces are fully responsible for these acts, and we call for the withdrawal of occupation forces or setting a timetable for their withdrawal," Abdul-Wahab said.
A U.S. helicopter patrolling above Sadr City came under intense fire from the ground and shot back, wounding two people Friday night, according to police 1st. Lt. Qassim Mohammed and witnesses.
The U.S. military said the helicopter had taken fire from six rockets launched from one site and destroyed the launcher. The military statement did not address whether there were casualties.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzil said the president's plans to meet with al-Maliki on Wednesday and Thursday were unchanged.
Al-Maliki is increasingly at odds with the Bush administration for his refusal to disband militias and associated deaths squads that are believed responsible for killing thousands of Sunnis since an al-Qaida attack blew up the golden dome of a revered Shiite shrine on Feb. 22 in Samarra, north of Baghdad.
Mortar fire rained down again on Sunni Islam's holiest shrine in Baghdad, the Abu Hanifa mosque in the Azamiyah neighborhood, wounding at least five people. Several mortars crashed into the area Thursday night within hours of the attacks in Sadr City, one of them puncturing the dome of the shrine and damaging the interior, including its library.
Also, militia gunmen raided a Sunni mosque in the Amil section of west Baghdad, killing two guards, police 1st Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq said.
And in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, Sunni insurgents blew up the dome of the important Shiite mosque of leading cleric Abdul-Karm al-Madani.
In the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, 23 people were killed and 43 wounded when explosives hidden in a parked car and in a suicide belt worn by a pedestrian detonated simultaneously outside a car dealership, said police Brig. Khalaf al-Jubouri.
Altogether, 56 people were killed across in Iraq on Friday, and police said they found 31 bodies dumped throughout Baghdad, most of them tortured before being shot.
In Sadr City, cleanup crews continued removing remains of the dead from wreckage of the car bombs, and tents were erected throughout the ramshackle district for relatives to receive condolences.
Hundreds of men, women and children beat their chests, chanted and cried as they walked beside vehicles carrying the caskets of their loved ones toward the holy Shiite city of Najaf for burial. Despite Baghdad's curfew, al-Maliki, himself a Shiite, ordered police to guard the processions.
As the funeral processions reached the edge of Sadr City in northeastern Baghdad, the cars and minivans left most of the mourners behind and began the 100-mile drive south to Najaf, a treacherous journey that passes through many checkpoints and areas controlled by Sunni militants in Iraq's so-called "Triangle of Death."
AP correspondents Thomas Wagner, Bassem Mroue and Qais al-Bashir contributed to this report.
Barbari sunt, barbarice egit - and could be acronymed into BSBE for the ease of use. After all, why do all our standard acronyms like LOL, WTF and the rest of them have to be in English? Latin could be just as good on occasion.
What's the matter, AP? Are you beginning to get a little tired of these heroic "insurgents"?
Did any of your Muslim cameramen participate in the drillings and mutilations, by any chance? Did you just notice that your Islamist friends are kind of nasty?
"In the past year, thousands of bodies have been found dumped across Baghdad and other cities in central Iraq, victims who were tortured, then shot to death, according to police. The suspected militia killers often have used electric drills on their captives' bodies before killing them. The bodies are frequently decapitated."
Before the election, all you were reporting was how many deaths there were, and blaming it on the insurgents' hatred of U.S. troops. Did you just wake up to what has been happening all year (and the year before that)? Or are you just painting a different picture now the election is over?
Smart thinking. Always keep that in mind.
What a fun bunch, just think their friends in Iran will have nukes soon!
Ackk ackk a dackk dacckkk!!
It's a religion of peace
It's a religion of peace
Perhap's its time to raise Sadr to the yardarm, and have his body hacked to bits.
I thought these cruelties were reserved for the Muslims' holy season of Ramadan. I guess it was just too much fun to limit the killing to just one month. Just when you thought they couldn't get much lower...
Just makes me all aquiver with joy Iranians with nukes./s
We have shed 3,000 lives to give these people freedom and democracy.
This is what they are doing with it.
Too bad Dubya didn't know in advance of his experiment, that arab muslims are culturally and religiously incapable of civil, peaceful democratic self-rule.
I understand why he was so committed to the experiment. It was his compassionate side.
They behave in Iraq today as they have behaved throughout the region, for hundreds of years. Saddam fit right into the cultural context.
The acts ordered by Saddam differ little from these we are witnessing by both sides of the "new Iraq." The free, democratic, unified, multicultural Iraq.
1. Were they aware of what was going on, or is the AP using 'failed to intervene' because 'stood by and did nothing' isn't true?
2. How does one intervene with a flaming human? Does the AP expect the military to carry fire extinguishers at all times?
There's no doubt things are a mess in Baghdad at the moment, partly because the U.S. acceeded to the Iraqi requests to pull troops out of Sadr City. But, as usual, one has to parse AP stories carefully to get past the reportorial hand-wringing and find the truth.
This might work if we could get weapons into the hands of all Iraqis, even youngsters, hand-grenades if possible,
It seems the Muslims in Iraq are continuing to battle between themselves. We should get out of the way and let them fight it out.
I love it! GIGO in modern dress!
That said, their sectarian stuff doesn't bother me that much - our (Catholic) cathedral has a mural of a 16th c Irish bishop (Desmond Hurley, Archbishop of Dublin and great great etc. uncle of one of our modern bishops) having his feet boiled in oil - before Queen Elizabeth I personally ordered him executed. Sectarian disputes are nasty.
One thing that you can bet, however, is that the Muslim sects have one common enemy: the infidel West. I think that's more of a concern to us than their internal disputes. Paradoxically, I think their internal disputes may lead to their uniting against us, the infidels.
Words fail me.
That time was 3+ years ago.
Bremer really screwed the pooch on that one. On a lot of things.
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