Updated at 3:59 p.m. EDT, Sept. 9, 2012
The deaths of at least 107 Iraqis in seemingly coordinated attacks eclipsed the expected but still shocking news that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has been sentenced to death by a Baghdad criminal court. Another 484 Iraqis were wounded in the violence, which occurred even deep into southern Iraq where such bloodshed is rare. One attack took place at a French consulate in Nasariya.
Although some of the attacks occurred earlier than the sentencing announcement, it cannot be ruled out that several of the later attacks were in response to it. Surges in violence have accompanied significant points in the Hashemi trial, and the evening attacks targeted Shi’ite neighborhoods in Baghdad. Hashemi is Sunni.
The fugitive vice president was sentenced to death in what many believe was a rigged court decision. He has denied all allegations and insisted the trial was part of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s intensified campaign to marginalize Sunnis. The case was tried in absentia after Hashemi fled Iraq, first to Kurdistan and later to Turkey. Both governments refused to hand Hashemi over.
Hashemi was first accused of financing terrorist activities in December, curiously, just as U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq. The first case, a bombing at the parliament building, turned out to be an al-Qaeda operation instead, but the Maliki administration found another 150 cases to blame on Hashemi.
Today, he and his son-in-law, Ahmed Qahtan, were found guilty for their involvement in the murders of a lawyer and security official. Over a lack of evidence, a judge acquitted Hashemi on a third murder charge. Defense lawyers re-iterated their belief that Maliki had manipulated court proceedings against his political rival and were promptly threatened by the court. If Hashemi returns to Iraq, he is legally allowed a re-trial.
Unintentionally supporting Hashemi’s counter-allegations, Maliki had tried to oust other senior Sunni politicians and ignited a political crisis that is yet unresolved. Moreover, at least three of Hashemi’s employees died while in detention, possibly tortured to death during interrogations. Hashemi has frequently accused the Iraqi government of extricating all confessions in the case through torture.
Meanwhile, violence took a heavy toll today. At least 107 people were killed and 484 more were wounded across the country, even in relatively peaceful southern cities.
In Baghdad, a bomb killed five people and wounded 38 more in Shula. Another bomb killed seven people and wounded 21 in Washash. Three people were killed and 14 more were wounded at a pet market in Hurriya. A blast in the Husseiniya neighborhood left two dead and eight wounded. One civilian was killed and four more were wounded in Narhwan. Also, someone tried to assassinate a Chaldean Christian leader.
Eleven people were killed and 20 more were wounded in a bombing attack in the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City. Police fired into the air to disperse crowds.
Three people were killed and 24 more were wounded during an explosion in Basra.
A car bomb that exploded outside a French consulate in Nasariya left one guard dead and four more wounded; the consul was not home at the time. A separate blast killed two civilians and wounded three more. Also, gunmen killed a civilian.
In Kirkuk, the bombings resumed. Car and motorcycle bombs killed seven people and wounded about 70, including one outside a police investigation office. Eight recruits were killed as they lined up for jobs as oil company police; at least 30 were wounded. The police chief was sacked.
In greater Baquba, several blasts killed one soldier and wounded 17 more.
Two people were killed and 11 more were wounded in an explosion in Taji.
In Madaen, a blast killed three people and wounded 10 more.
Three soldiers and two gunmen were killed during clashes in Abu Ghraib.
In Mosul, gunmen killed a civilian. A bombing left seven wounded. Three policemen were wounded in a separate blast in Zummar. In Kojily, another blast left three more policemen wounded. A grenade wounded two civilians. A blast killed one policeman and wounded another in eastern Mosul.
Two people were killed and seven more were wounded in a Tal Afar bombing outside the Turkmen Front offices.
A blast in Ishaqi killed two policemen and wounded two more as they were evaluating an explosive device.
Three people were killed in Suleiman Pak during a blast.
In Riyadh, six soldiers were wounded in a bombing.
Three people were wounded in a blast in Hawija.
A sniper killed a soldier in Falluja.
A blast in Bab Sinjar left seven wounded.
Three people were wounded in a double bombing near an official’s home in Mandali.
Border guards killed a smuggler near the Syrian border along Nineveh province.
A blast targeting a regiment leader took place in Bartila, but no casualties were reported.
No casualties were reported in a Samarra bombing.