Bridge Bombings Kill 25 In Baghdad Area

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Washington Post
May 12, 2007
Pg. 12

U.S. General Wants More Troops in Diyala
By Sudarsan Raghavan and Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post Foreign Service
BAGHDAD, May 11 -- Truck bombs detonated on three bridges around Baghdad on Friday, killing 25 people and injuring 69 in the latest assault on commercial arteries in defiance of a three-month-old U.S. and Iraqi security offensive.
Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi forces are patrolling and erecting checkpoints in neighborhoods across Baghdad. Yet car bombs and suicide bomb attacks, apparently by Sunni insurgents seeking to stoke sectarian tensions, continue to exact immense casualties, deepening sectarian divisions.
Friday's attacks damaged two of the bridges that connect mostly Shiite east Baghdad to mostly Sunni west Baghdad, and came a month after a truck bombing collapsed the Sarafiya Bridge, dumping cars into the Tigris River and killing 11 people. Days later, a car bomber blew himself up near another bridge, killing 10.
The bombings came as the senior U.S. commander for northern Iraq, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, said Friday that he has asked for U.S. reinforcement troops to quell rising violence in the troubled eastern province of Diyala. He said the government there was "non-functional" and the Iraqi security forces were hamstrung by a slow and sometimes sectarian bureaucracy in Baghdad.
"After nearly eight months on the ground, I am concerned about the overall progress of our Iraqi security forces and the governmental processes," Mixon said in a teleconference from Iraq with Pentagon reporters.
Provincial leaders did not execute a budget last year and meet only irregularly, and so "fail to provide those essential services the population needs," Mixon said. "They are overburdened by a centralized bureaucratic process from Baghdad and impacted by corruption and sectarian issues. These are areas that we must improve on over the next several months."
As a result, more U.S. troops are necessary, he said. "I do not have enough soldiers right now in Diyala province to get that security situation moving. We have plans to put additional forces in that area."
Earlier this year, one additional U.S. battalion was dispatched to Diyala, and U.S. military officials said that Mixon has requested a second battalion. Asked how long he believed the increase of U.S. forces should last, Mixon said that was a decision for higher commanders. But echoing several other regional commanders interviewed recently in Iraq, he said he saw no short-term solution to security problems.
"We just can't think about pulling out of here just like that," he said. "We need to have a long-term commitment in some form or fashion to ensure security in the region."
On Friday, the military reported the deaths of two American soldiers in separate incidents Thursday, one in Diyala and one in Baghdad.
It also said that 10 people were killed and 53 injured in Friday's truck bombings. But police officials said the deaths had risen to 25 and the injured to 69.
The first two truck bombings occurred minutes apart at around 5:55 p.m., the U.S. military said in a statement. The first vehicle, a fuel truck, blew up one-third of the way across the old Diyala River Bridge, southeast of the upscale neighborhood of Karrada, setting afire many vehicles. The bridge span was intact but needed an assessment to determine whether it could be opened to traffic, the military said.
On the nearby new Diyala bridge, a dump truck blew up, sending an estimated 15-foot section of the bridge plunging into the river, the military said. The third truck bomb detonated on a bridge on a major highway between Baghdad and Taji, in the north. The military said there were no casualties in that incident.
Tyson reported from Washington.