Iraqi officials tell citizens to take arms after more than 220 die
Robert H. Reid
The Associated Press
BAGHDAD — Prominent Shiite and Sunni politicians called on Iraqi civilians to take up arms to defend themselves after a weekend of violence that claimed more than 220 lives, including 60 who died Sunday in a surge of bombings and shootings around Baghdad.
The calls reflect growing frustration with the inability of Iraqi security forces to prevent extremist attacks.
The weekend deaths included two American soldiers — one killed Sunday in a suicide bombing on the western outskirts of Baghdad and another who died in combat Saturday in Salahuddin province north of the capital, the U.S. command said. Three soldiers were wounded in the Sunday blast.
Sunday’s deadliest attack occurred when a bomb struck a truckload of newly recruited Iraqi soldiers on the outskirts of Baghdad, killing 15 and wounding 20, a police official at the nearest police station said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
Also Sunday, two car bombs exploded near simultaneously in Baghdad’s mostly Shiite Karradah district, killing eight people. The first detonated at 10:30 a.m. near a closed restaurant, destroying stalls and soft drink stands. Two passers-by were killed and eight wounded, a police official said.
About five minutes later, the second car exploded about a mile away near shops selling leather jackets and shoes. Six people were killed and seven wounded, said the official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
The Karradah area includes the offices of the Supreme Islamic Council in Iraq, the biggest Shiite party in parliament, and is considered among the safest parts of the capital.
Elsewhere, a bomb hidden under a car detonated Sunday at the entrance of Shorja market — a mostly Shiite area of central Baghdad that has been hit repeatedly by insurgents — killing three civilians and wounding five, police said.
Police also reported they found the bodies of 29 men Sunday scattered across Baghdad — presumed victims of sectarian death squads. Four other people were killed Sunday in separate shootings in Baghdad, police said on condition of anonymity.
The string of attacks in the Iraqi capital showed that extremists can still unleash strikes in the city despite a relative lull in violence here in recent weeks amid the U.S. offensives around Baghdad.
But the bloodshed in the Baghdad area paled in comparison to the carnage Saturday when a truck bomb devastated the public market in Armili, a town north of the capital whose inhabitants are mostly Shiites from the Turkoman ethnic minority.
There was still confusion over the death toll.
Two police officers — Col. Sherzad Abdullah and Col. Abbas Mohammed Amin — said 150 people were killed. Other officials put the death toll at 115.