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  August 2004

Current Affairs
Violence in Iraq claims 250 lives in July
TMW Report

The continuing violence in Iraq claimed more than 250 lives in July. Those killed included a provincial governor and nine US soldiers. A number of Iraqi government personnel including policemen, bodyguards were also killed. The number of injured runs into hundreds.

The biggest casualties were caused by suicide bombings by Iraqi militants and the US air attacks on the militants hideouts. It maybe stated that there has been no let up in the killings even after the transfer of power by the US administration to the government of prime minister Iyad Allawi.

Twelve persons died in US air attack on Fallujah on July 5. According to reports warplane dropped six massive bombs on a house in Fallujah killing 12 people and wounding five others. The raid hit the southern Shuhada neighbourhood in Fallujah, where previous air strikes targeted suspected safe houses of Al Qaeda-linked militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.

“Multinational forces conducted a coordinated air strike against a Mujahideen safe house today in Fallujah,” a military spokesman said, confirming it was the fifth such raid on the Sunni Muslim bastion in two weeks.

“Four 500-pound bombs and two 1,000-pound bombs were dropped.”

Meanwhile on July 6, two US marines were killed in action and one died later from wounds received during an operation in the restive Iraqi province of Al Anbar, the US military said.

Guerillas killed five US soldiers and two Iraqi guards in a mortar attack on National Guard headquarters in Samarra, north of Baghdad, on July 8. The attack came as a Lebanese-born US marine missing from his unit in Iraq, who was at one point reported to have been beheaded by his captors, was handed over to US officials in Beirut.

Eighteen US soldiers and four Iraqi guards were also wounded when guerillas fired mortar rounds at the National Guard headquarters, severely damaging the building, the US military said.

A US Army Apache attack helicopter fired Hellfire missiles at a nearby building after the strike, killing four guerillas, the US military said.

The deaths in Samarra, brought to 651 the US combat death toll in Iraq since the invasion in March last year.

On July 14, gunmen killed the Governor of the Iraqi city of Mosul and two of his bodyguards as he was driving in a convoy of vehicles towards Baghdad. The day also witnessed a suspected suicide car bombing in Baghdad that killed 11 people and wounded 30.

An interior ministry official said attackers threw a grenade at the vehicle carrying Governor Osama Kashmoula and fired automatic weapons. Governorate spokesman Hazem Jalawi said in an exchange of fire after the governor’s convoy was ambushed, the four assailants were also shot dead.

In the town of Haditha, officials said 10 people were killed and 40 wounded when a car bomb exploded near the main police station. The blast damaged a municipal building and a bank in the town, 200 km northwest of Baghdad a report said on July 15.

In Kirkuk, the head of security at Iraq’s foreign ministry was killed and two other officials wounded when gunmen attacked their convoy travelling north on the road from Baghdad to Kirkuk, a senior Kurdish official said on July 15.

In Blasts and clashes at least 12 people, including a US soldier, were killed in a string of attacks in the Iraqi capital and known hotspots on July 21. The trail of blood led from a hospital in Baghdad to a car bomb in a residential district of the capital to fighting between guerillas and US soldiers in the restive cities of Ramadi and Samarra.

Four people were killed and 14 wounded in clashes and a suspected car bomb blast in Ramadi. US Central Command reported two US soldiers and two marines were killed in the Al Anbar province on July 20. Police also said the mutilated body of an Iraqi scientist and an unidentified corpse were found in Samarra, scene of sporadic deadly clashes and where a powerful suicide car bomb attack on July 8 on the city’s Iraqi National Guard headquarters which killed five US soldiers and four Iraqi guardsmen. Elsewhere, a policeman died and three were wounded in the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk when their patrol was targeted by rocket-propelled grenades, police said.

In one of the worst incidents during the month twenty-five guerillas were killed in a fierce battle with US troops on July 22 in the Iraqi flashpoint city of Ramadi. Fourteen US servicemen were also injured, the US military said. The clashes were triggered when guerillas set off a bomb near a Marines convoy and then attacked it with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire, according to a military statement.

It said the US forces, backed by air support, battled against an estimated 100 guerillas and detained 25 of them. An Iraqi police official said the three brothers were killed when the car bomb exploded in their path as they walked along a main road lined with several public buildings.

A dawn raid on July 22 in Baghdad netted about 20 Arabs, mostly from Syria, suspected of links with attacks on occupation forces in Iraq, the interior ministry said. Hundreds of Iraqi police and national guards, backed up by US forces, took part in the operation.

Pakistanis executed
Militants killed two Pakistani hostages Raja Azad Hussein an engineer and his driver Sajad Naim. Al Jazeera television said late night on July 28. The two Pakistanis who were for and Arab company Al-Tamimi were earlier kidnapped by militants while on way to Baghdad. Al Jazeera said it had received a videotape showing the killings but would not air it as it was too gruesome. The news of the beheading came as Iraq’s interim government witnessed one of the bloodiest days since its takeover from the US-led troops.

At least 120 people were killed in a suicide bombing and clashes on the day as Iraq’s interim government marked its first month in office.

Baquba blast
Up to 68 were killed and dozens wounded in the morning blast in the town of Baquba, north of Baghdad, that struck as dozens of police recruits queued up outside a police post seeking work and a bus passed by laden with passengers. 68 were dead and 56 injured in the Baquba blast, Health Minister Alaadin Alwan disclosed.

Provincial police chief Gen Walid Khaled Abdel Salam confirmed that a suicide bomber triggered the massive explosion outside the rapid reaction unit building at about 9:30am. Police officer Mohammed Jassim said the area had been jammed with people at the time of the blast. “Young men were queuing outside to join the police and a bus passed by,” he said.

Meanwhile, 35 insurgents and seven Iraqi troops were killed in a joint raid with multinational soldiers south of Baghdad, the US military said.

The region had been largely quiet since the end of an uprising by Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr earlier this year.

West of Fallujah, four Iraqi policemen were killed and one was wounded when a homemade bomb targeted a joint US and Iraqi convoy, a local security officer said.

Clashes with US troops
On July 30 at least 13 Iraqis were killed and a dozen wounded in overnight clashes between US troops and insurgents in the flashpoint of Fallujah.

The US military said earlier that it targeted insurgents in Fallujah with artillery and air fire after they attacked a marine position in the city with mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. Marines first responded with tanks and artillery fire, it said, adding that there were no marine casualties and “no information about any insurgent losses.”

The US military has carried out at least seven air strikes in a month on suspected hideouts of loyalists of alleged Al Qaeda operative Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, most of them in southern Fallujah.