Bomb attacks in Baghdad kill shoppers as ahead of major Muslim festival

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 22 October 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq_Bombs on Sunday ripped through crowds of shoppers at a market
and bakery stocking up on sweets and other delicacies to celebrate the
Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, killing at least five people, police said.

The carnage in the Shurja wholesale market, Baghdad's oldest and largest,
marked the second time in as many days that open-air shopping places have
been targeted and looks to cap a surge in deaths during the Muslim holy
fasting month of Ramadan, which ends on Sunday for Sunnis.

At least 19 people were killed and scores injured in a bomb and mortar
attack Saturday on a market in Mahmoudiyah, just south of the capital.

So far this month, an average of about 43 Iraqis dying each day, according
to an Associated Press count. That compares to an average daily death toll
of about 27 since April 2005. The AP count includes civilians, government
officials and police and security forces, and is considered a minimum based
on AP reporting.

The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported, and the
United Nations estimates about 100 Iraqi civilians are killed each day.

Along with the soaring death toll among Iraqis, 78 U.S. troops have also
died this month, surpassing the year's previous high figure of 76 in April.
With more than a week left in the month, October is on course to be the
deadliest month for American service members in two years, a development
U.S. officials have blamed in part on the increased vulnerability of
American forces during a major two-month security sweep in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials sought to play-down an unusually candid assessment
of the security situation made by a senior U.S. State Department official in
an interview Saturday with Al-Jazeera television, a pan-Arab satellite
channel, Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of
Near Eastern Affairs, said the U.S. had shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in
Iraq, but added that Washington was ready to talk with any Iraqi group
except al-Qaida in Iraq to facilitate national reconciliation.

State department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Fernandez afterward
said he didn't think the reports were an "accurate reflection of what he
said." Asked whether the Bush administration believed that history will show
a record of arrogance or stupidity in Iraq, McCormack replied "No."

A senior Bush administration official questioned whether the remarks had
been translated correctly.

"Those comments obviously don't reflect our position," said the official,
who asked not to be identified because a transcript was not then available
for review.

President George W. Bush reviewed Iraq strategy with top war commanders and
national security advisers on Friday and Saturday, but indicated little
inclination for major changes to an increasingly divisive policy.

"Our goal in Iraq is clear and unchanging: Our goal is victory," Bush said
in his weekly radio address Saturday. "What is changing are the tactics we
use to achieve that goal."

White House is under heavy bipartisan, pre-election pressure for a
significant re-examination of the president's war plan.

With Ramadan ending Sunday for Sunni Muslims, Baghdad's Shurja market was
especially packed with families shopping for food, clothing and household
items from among a warren of warehouses, stalls and shops.

Three people were killed and eight others injured in an initial bombing,
while a second explosion half an hour late injured six more, police Lt. Ali
Abbas said.

Another bomb hidden beneath a car killed two people and injured 10 others
lined up outside the al-Farasha pastry and sweet shop in Baghdad's eastern
New Baghdad neighborhood at 11:45 a.m. (0845 GMT), police Capt. Mohammed
Abdul-Ghani said. About five minutes later, a mortar round crashed into a
restaurant about 200 meters (220 yards) away, injuring two civilians and
causing extensive damage to the eatery and nearby shops, Abdul-Ghani said.

At least 10 people were killed in other violence around Iraq, including nine
dead in clashes between rival Shiite and Sunni tribes south of the capital.

Fierce clashes broke out Saturday night between the Shiite Kufeifan tribe
and their Sunni Juheishat rivals in Shujeiriya, south of Baghdad, apparently
sparked over the Juheishat's support for calls for the establishment of a
separate Islamic state in the surrounding province.

About 80 families panicked by the fighting fled the area for other nearby
towns, the report said.

Two men were kidnapped Saturday afternoon on Baghdad's southern edge, police
Lt. Mohammed al-Shamari said. He said the men, identified as Bashar al-Lami
and Abbas Thijil, may have been seized due to rumors they worked with
American forces, which even if unproven, can result in a death sentence for
Iraqis at the hands of Sunni insurgents or Shiite death squads.

One person was killed and another injured by a roadside bomb at 7:30 a.m
(0430 GMT) in Mahaweel, about 56 kilometers (35 miles) south of Baghdad,
police Capt. Muthana Khalid Ali said. The bomb appeared to have missed its
intended target, a police patrol.

Two others were injured in a similar attack shortly afterward in east
Baghdad, police 1st. Lt. Ali Abbas said.

A tense calm lingered over two cities in the south where militia fighters
loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had clashed
with security forces last week.

However, eight Mahdi Army fighters were reported to have died Saturday in
clashes with U.S. military and Iraqi police in Suwayrah, 40 kilometers (25
miles) south of Baghdad, Hemeed Al-Zerkani, a spokesman for the group, said.

There was no immediate comment on the report from the U.S. military.