Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The latest mass murder in Iraq

You may have read about this:

Car bombs kill nearly 60 in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) — Car bombs and a suicide attacker struck crowded areas in Baghdad and former insurgent strongholds to the north and west of the capital on Tuesday, killing nearly 60 people and breaking a recent lull in violence in the predominantly Sunni areas.

The attacks were a deadly reminder of the threat posed by suspected Sunni insurgents even as clashes between Shiite militia fighters and U.S.-Iraqi forces continued elsewhere.

The first blast Tuesday occurred in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, when a car parked in front of a restaurant exploded just before noon across the street from the central courthouse and other government offices.

Many of the victims were people visiting the government offices, petition writers helping people with documents in stalls outside, or the occupants of cars that were caught in the explosion as they passed through the area, witnesses said. Several cars and minibuses were set ablaze, while more than 10 shops and the restaurant were heavily damaged.

The article blames "suspected Sunni insurgents." Is that really a fair description? Who are their targets? "Many of the victims were people visiting government offices, petition writers . . ." That sounds more like terrorists.

Furthermore, this bombing bears some of the hallmarks of Al Qaeda.

The victims were mainly civillians (and not, for example US soldiers).
The means was a car bomb

Typically, al Qaeda targets Shiite civillians. From the article, it is unclear how many of the victims of this latest outrage were Shiites. But it is clear that they were largely people who had business before the Government. If you have been following the news from Iraq, you are aware that there has been a falling out between al Qaeda and Iraqi Sunnis who have decided to throw their lot in with the government. This time, the victims here were largely people with business before the government. Has al Qaeda, in its anger at losing the support of many Sunnis, decided that they are legitimate targets as well?

I suspect the answer is yes, but I don't really know. At any rate, I wish the article would have pointed out the similarities between this bombing and typical al Qaeda attacks -- as well as the one possible difference. It's something the reader deserves to know.

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