Bomber kills Iraqi shoppers despite Mecca peace call

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: AFP
Byline: Paul Schemm
Date: 21 October 2006


BAGHDAD, Oct 21, 2006 (AFP) - A suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus
crowded with Baghdad holiday shoppers on Saturday, killing four people only
hours Iraq's religious leaders issued a call from Mecca to end the

Children's clothes and toys were scattered across a bridge crossing the
Tigris from one of Baghdad's biggest public markets, crammed with shoppers
preparing for the Eid holiday at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

"Is this the Mecca document? Killing children and those buying toys for
them," roared Abu Sajad, a stocky, white-bearded man in his 50s on the
scene. "The holidays are the only days now when children are happy."

The blast came as Iraqis expressed tenuous hope that Friday's meeting of 29
prominent religious leaders of all sects would help staunch the bloody
sectarian violence wracking much of the country.

The pact signed by the representatives of the two main branches of Islam
urged Iraqis not to shed Muslim blood and called on Sunnis and Shiites to
"join ranks with a view to the independence of Iraq and its territorial

The text included calls to safeguard the "goods, blood and honor of the
Muslim", to free innocent people who have been abducted, and to "allow
displaced people to return to their place of origin".

Iraq's mixed provinces like Baghdad, Diyala and Kirkuk have been swept by
waves of sectarian violence as gunmen from each community have targeted
civilians and left piles of corpses in city streets.

US and Iraqi military efforts to stem the bloodshed have had little effect,
and on Thursday a US spokesman admitted that a high profile effort to
stabilize the capital had not met expectations and the violence was

Clashes between Shiite militia and police in the southern city of Amara
that left two dozen dead on Thursday and Friday further underscored the
tenuous grip the government has on order.

On Saturday, US President George W. Bush was to meet via satellite with his
commanders in Iraq to discuss strategy, at time of rising clamor for a
review of US policy in Iraq.

So far this month, 75 American troops have been killed, putting October on
course to be one of the deadliest months for the US military since the 2003
invasion of Iraq.

The meeting in Mecca, held under the auspices of the Organization of the
Islamic Conference, is only the latest in a long string of calls by the
country's leaders for the armed elements to stop their attacks.

Nevertheless, many Iraqis clung to the hope that the prestigious and sacred
site of the meeting would have an impact.

"I believe just the step of signing the document in Mecca is important,"
said Hamudi Mahmud Ismail, a 53-year-old researcher. "It will push all the
parties to review their actions and stop killing each other."

Emad Abdel Hussein, a 35-year-old bookstore owner in Baghdad, was
cautiously optimistic about the pact, but noted that it would not work
unless the warring parties want stability themselves.

"I doubt it will be implemented any time soon unless some sort of active
implementation measure is provided," he told AFP.

Since the February bombing of a Shiite shrine just north of Baghdad, the
violence in the country has increasingly taken on the tinge of a civil war,
with armed elements exchanging revenge killings.

It has led most people to put their trust not so much in the official
security forces that seem unable to stop the violence, but in the informal
armed groups to protect them.

Attempts by coalition troops to turn over military control of the country
to Iraq's security forces have foundered as local forces have buckled in
the face of militia onslaughts.