Updated at 10:15 p.m. EST, Dec. 9, 2009
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked for patience following yesterday’s massive bombings in Baghdad. The attacks continued today, but they were not as successful. At least 11 Iraqis were killed and 28 more were wounded in the new violence.
The prime minister asked Iraqis for patience as they investigate yesterday’s bomb attacks. He again blamed Syria for harboring the former Ba’ath Party officials he holds responsible for the attacks; however, these accusations may actually stem from Maliki’s desire to undermine the politcal campaigns of former Ba’athists in the upcoming election. Syria has denied this, and it does not address the failure of security personnel to prevent the attacks. Late in the day, however, Maliki demoted Lieutenant General Abbud Qanbar, who was the head of Baghdad Operations Command. This may be the start of a larger sweep of security officials. Police also accused Saudi Arabia for harboring the groups behind the attacks.
Seeking more answers, parliament speaker Ayad al-Samarrie ordered security officials to appear before a special session. They have previously ignored such requests, but Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani promised to appear if the session is not held behind closed doors. Meanwhile, a former security official now living in exile offered his diagnosis of the problem. Wafiq al-Samaraei, a former intelligence chief under Saddam, blamed the failures on the conflicting agendas of the various political blocs and factions handling security and on the lack of viable intelligence.
Iraqi officials also downgraded the casualty figures to only 77 killed. Local and international media using the same sources found as many 127 people had been killed yesterday. There is often confusion following even small attacks, but Iraqi officials in the past have, for political purposes, downplayed the number of Iraqis killed or wounded in the violence. Major attacks at this time could undermine the prime minister’s re-election campaign.
U.S. forces remain on track for next year’s drawdown despite the bombings and election delays. Despite the expected withdrawal, about 2,600 soldiers received their deployment orders for the summer of 2011.
In Baghdad, a roadside bomb struck in the Qahira neighborhood, killing two people and wounded 11 others on a minibus. Near a library in Adhamiya, two street sweepers were killed and as many as eight others were wounded when a bomb hidden in garbage exploded. Gunmen killed a police officer at a checkpoint, also in Adhamiya.
A bomb on a bus in Mahmoudiya left three dead and eight wounded.
A bomb was defused in Fallujah.
Eleven suspects were detained in Basra province.
In Amara, police captured eleven suspects.
A woman and two partners were arrested for recruiting suicide bombers in Diyala province.
About 130 suspects were arrested for crossing the Syrian border illegally in the past month. Although some were foreign nationals, a number of them were Iraqis.
A coroner has ruled “pilot error” as the cause of a helicopter crash that killed two British servicemembers in 2007. He also blamed the Ministry of Defense for “indefensible procedural and maintenance errors” that contributed to the accident.
Iraqi parents are angry that a new textbook for young children highlights the divide and differences between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims. They are afraid this could lead to religious persecution and the type of sectarian bloodshed that marked Iraq after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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