Updated at 7:15 p.m. EST, Feb. 23, 2010
With elections just a couple weeks away, the Iraqi government will continue using fraudulent bomb-detection devices even as Baghdad residents brace themselves for more pre-election violence. At least 14 Iraqis were killed and 16 were wounded in light violence today. Also, a U.S. soldier was killed in a vehicular accident in Baghdad today.
The Iraqi government has admitted that about half of the ADE 651 bomb-detection devices currently in use have failed to work properly. Instead of outright ending the program over the high failure rate, they have chosen to replace some of the broken devices with newer ones. The United States had warned Iraq about the ADE 651 devices, even before the United Kingdom banned their export; however, admitting a failure to protect Baghdadis from recent bombing attacks could undermine Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s chances of retaining power in upcoming elections. The U.S., meanwhile, has sent bomb-sniffing dogs to help detect explosives, but a Muslim taboo against dogs keeps their use limited. Oddly, Iraq will also sue ATSC Ltd. for selling faulty devices.
During a newspaper interview, Vice President Adil Abdel-Mahdi warned of the potential for a military coup and criticized the government for using security forces to provide young men jobs. Hadi al-Amiri, who is the head of the Badr Militia, which is the armed wing of Mahdi’s party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, spoke out today as well. Amiri is a member of parliament and has come out against a unity government, but also offered that "the rest who differ should be in opposition and therefore able to put strong pressure on the government to perform." Meanwhile, Iraq’s Sunni vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, said that while reconciliation may have failed, he does not think Iraq will slip back into sectarian violence.
Iraqis are so charged over possible foreign interference in the elections, a trip to Saudi Arabia by a leading politician has ignited its own controversy. Former prime minister and head of the secular Iraqiya list, Ayad Allawi, said the trip was to help relations between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite-led Iraq.
In Mosul, gunmen killed an old man and his two sons, all of them Christian and one of them a priest. A hand grenade wounded a child in the al-Jamiaa al-Kabier district. Two policemen were killed during a shooting at a Tal al-Ruman checkpoint. An exchange of gunfire at a checkpoint left one soldier and one gunman dead. Gunmen killed a woman in front of her house. A sticky bomb killed an off-duty policeman. A shooting in al-Sa’a left two policemen dead and five others wounded.
In Baghdad, a bomb planted in a corpse exploded, killing three people and wounding five others.; this tactic was used frequently during the height of sectarian violence. Two Katyusha rockets were seized. Mortars fell on the Green Zone, but no casualties were reported. Also, four people were arrested for random gunfire.
An I.E.D. explosion in Kirkuk wounded two people.
Two policemen were wounded in Tikrit yesterday as they were trying to defuse a bomb.
Twelve suspects were arrested in Basra.
A curfew is in effect in Madaen, which saw two attacks in recent days. Yesterday’s assualt involved the gruesome murder of a family. Four suspects were arrested in connection with the attack. Madaen is a suburb of Baghdad.
The security guards were arrested in Numaniya after anti-election graffiti was discovered on a building they were guarding.
A rocket cache was found near Kut.