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    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Forty-eight hours in Iraq

    Sulaymaniyah, Iraq – Tuesday, October 21

    Iraq, unquestionably, is a safer place now than it was a year or 18 months ago, when the worst of the inter-communal fighting was raging. But what does “safer” mean in the Iraqi context?

    To give you an idea, I thought I’d resurrect a feature from the blog I did during my last visit to Iraq, and treat you to a short summary of the violence around the country in the 48 hours since I’ve arrived in this comparatively calm corner of it.

    While most of the shootings and explosion are considered to minor for the media to report on anymore, the overall picture is far from pretty. Even though the main Sunni and Shia militias are largely holding their fire for now, this is still arguably the most dangerous country on earth, with the northern city of Mosul (which has a mixed Sunni Arab and Kurdish population) now rivaling Baghdad as the centre of the chaos.

    (The incidents were not confirmed by me. The reports are courtesy of the folks at Iraq Today and McClatchy newspapers)

    Today (as of 6 p.m. local):

    - Three electricity workers and an Iraqi army soldier were wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off in eastern Baghdad.
    - A bomb targeting a police patrol exploded in eastern Baghdad, wounding two civilians, Iraqi police said.
    - Fifteen people were killed and 40 others were injured in fierce clashes that erupted overnight and continued sporadically till noon in an area southwest of Iraq. The deadly clashes occurred when people from the city of Ramadi, capital of western Anbar province, attacked people from Babel province near the Jurf al-Sakhar area, some 60 km southwest of Baghdad. The battle erupted due to a dispute between the two sides over the ownership of farmland.
    - Gunmen blew up a drinking water station east of the district of al-Dalouiya, near the Tigris River.
    - Clashes broke out between armed gunmen and Iraqi army soldiers in the al-Siddiq neighborhood in the east of Mosul.


    - A roadside bomb struck a double-decker bus in eastern Baghdad, killing two people and injuring seven. Iraqi police and hospital officials said the bus was carrying employees of Iraq's Housing Ministry through the Shiite-dominated neighborhood of Mashtal when the blast occurred.
    - Nine decomposed bodies were found in Latifiya, 40 km south of Baghdad, police said. The victims had been buried for more than a year.
    - The Iraqi army killed two militants and arrested 51 others on Sunday in different areas across Iraq, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.
    - A roadside bomb planted near a school for girls in central Baghdad.
    - A bomb placed under a taxi exploded at Maysaloun Square in east Baghdad, police said. Police and health officials said two people were killed and two injured.
    - A roadside bomb detonated on Palestine Street (east Baghdad) targeting a police patrol. Four people were injured, including a policeman.
    - In two separate incidents, individual dead bodies were discovered in eastern Baghdad.
    - Three insurgent gunmen were killed near the city of Baquba when an improvised explosive device they were planting exploded.
    - Police accidentally shot and killed a civilian during a raid on the town of Muqdadiyah, north east of Baquba.
    - Police shot and killed three gunmen during clashes in the town of Mandli, east of Baquba.
    - A civilian was killed by a roadside bomb that exploded near his home in the town of Khanaqeen.
    - One man was killed and another injured by a roadside bomb that exploded in the northern city Mosul.
    - Gunmen assassinated a member of the Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP) in Mosul.
    - A sniper shot and killed a policeman in Borsa neighborhood in Mosul.
    - Six people, all members of one family, were injured when a roadside bomb exploded near there car in Mosul.

    Barrack Obama wants to start withdrawing U.S. soldiers from this country, something those Iraqis I’ve spoken to in the past two days believe will lead to even more violence. But at least that’s a new policy. John McCain thinks America is “winning” something here.

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