Updated at 4:41 p.m. EDT, Aug. 8, 2010
Explosions of an unknown source left casualties in Basra where police were already expecting large demonstrations. At least 66 Iraqis were killed and 237 more were wounded there and elsewhere. Meanwhile, U.S. forces have officially handed over control of combat operations to their Iraqi counterparts. Also, British special forces are under investigation prisoner abuse.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki admitted his reluctance to give up the premiership is part of the deadlock preventing the formation of the new government.
In central Basra, at least two explosions of unknown origins left 45 dead and 185 wounded at the al-Ashaar souk. Although witnesses and security sources said that three improvised bombs were the cause of the explosions, the city’s police chief blamed a malfunctioning generator. General Ray Odierno believes it was a terrorist attack, while a lawmaker went as far as to chastise police for the security situation in the city. Fires that trapped patrons in shops may have added to the confusion and casualty figures. Even before the blasts, Basra police had prepared for potential demonstrations against frequent electrical blackouts. It is unclear whether this may have been related sabotage or just an opportunistic attack. A bomb may have also set off the generator explosion. Although few reports of violence come out of Basra, it has long been clear that attacks there seldom generate appropriate coverage in the Western media.
In Baghdad, an all-night shootout at a Saidiya bomb factory left five policemen and one gunman dead. Another 14 Iraqis were wounded, among them women and children. Two suspects were later arrested. In the cache discovered at the factory was an explosives-packed minibus. Last night, gunmen killed a policeman and wounded two others in Hurriya. In the Jihad neighborhood, one civilian was killed and three more were wounded.
Gunmen killed a policeman in Rutba.
In Mosul, a police official tried to stop a suicide bomber but the explosives were triggered, killing one policeman and wounding six others, including the official. An I.E.D. killed a child. Gunmen wounded three people, including a prison warden, at a mourning service.
In Khanaqin, two brothers were killed in a blast.
Two roadside bombs in Mahmoudiya wounded three people.
Police captured nine suspects and a weapons cache in Baquba.