140 Iraqis murdered in Ermeli
“I am at work today to retaliate against the criminals, and to send them a message that we are alive and we are on our homeland and we will fight Al-Qa'ida until the last drop of our blood,” he said. “We will either kill them or they will annihilate us,” Hussein added, before launching into a slogan that underlined how the violence of Al-Qa'ida's Sunni extremists has driven a wedge between Iraq's rival communities.
News report from The Australian of the most recent fascist attack on the Iraqi people:
DARK grief descended on the Iraqi village of Ermeli today as black mourning banners, armbands, bloodstains and soot bore grim testament to a truck bomb attack that left 140 people dead.
The rural community near the northern oil hub of Kirkuk was the latest victim of a week of intense violence and political intrigue in an Iraq mired in bloody civil conflict.
Police guarding the entrance to the town wore black armbands and stony expressions, determined to face down the extremists behind yesterday's attack, when a truck packed with four tonnes of explosives detonated in a crowded market.
“I lost my uncle and his son in the explosion,” policeman Imad Abdul Hussein told AFP, adding that the village was without running water after the suicide bombing destroyed pipes and brought down electricity cables.
“I am at work today to retaliate against the criminals, and to send them a message that we are alive and we are on our homeland and we will fight Al-Qa'ida until the last drop of our blood,” he said.
“We will either kill them or they will annihilate us,” Hussein added, before launching into a slogan that underlined how the violence of Al-Qa'ida's Sunni extremists has driven a wedge between Iraq's rival communities.
“Triumph to Ali's Shi'ites!” he shouted, referring to the first revered imam of the Shi'ite Muslim tradition and the hero of Iraq's majority community.
The mayor of nearby Tuz Khurmatu said Al-Qa'ida had struck because Ermeli had been a peaceful village of Sunnis and Shi'ites from Iraq's Turkmen minority surrounded by smaller hamlets of Sunni Arabs.
“Al-Qa'ida hit Ermeli because it is a safe and stable town. They target safe places to paralyse and confuse the government,” said Mayor Mohammed Rashed.
“They want to send a message to the world that they are capable of targeting anything, to show by their explosions that the police are failing,” he said.
“But they contribute, by these explosions, to build our awareness and unity in fighting the terrorists.”
Police chief Lieutenant Colonel Khalaf al-Bayati rattled off a litany of destruction. “Almost every household in Emerli has lost a loved one,” he said.
“We have around 1,200 mud-brick houses in the town. Fifty houses are totally demolished, 20 houses are partially demolished and 45 shops and more than 35 cars were wrecked.
“We have registered a total number of 140 killed but there are also 20 missing and 270 injured,” he added, accusing Al-Qa'ida of carrying out the attack in revenge for recent successes against the group by his men.
The US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and the US military commander, General David Petraeus, issued a joint statement condemning the bombing.
“This attack is another sad example of the nature of the enemy and their use of indiscriminate violence to kill innocent citizens,” they said.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon was “appalled by the bomb attack ... (and) condemns in the strongest terms such heinous acts which target innocent civilians,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The Ermeli bomb blast, one of the deadliest since the 2003 US-led invasion, came after a bloody and dangerous week even by the standards of Iraq's four-year descent into civil war.
Over the course of the week, US military confirmed the deaths of 22 soldiers and marines, and the British army in Basra lost two troops during what was described as one of its biggest operations of the war so far.
Another US soldier was killed in a suicide car bomb attack on his patrol west of Baghdad yesterday, while the British army announced a third death.
Shi'ite militias clashed with Iraqi security forces in the southern town of Diwaniyah, and suspected Sunni insurgents detonated bombs in Baghdad - eight more civilians were killed in a double car bombing on Sunday.
Against this backdrop, political support for US President George W. Bush and his Iraqi ally Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was slipping.
Bush saw two more US senators from his Republican Party speaking out against the open-ended use of American forces to prop up Maliki's government, despite calls from US commanders for more time to build on recent successes.
Maliki, meanwhile, engaged in a war of words with his former supporters in Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's movement, calling on it to lay down its weapons after its Mahdi Army militia clashed with police and US-led troops.
Sadr's aides in turn accused Maliki of pandering to the US “occupier” and warned he might not last much longer in office, amid reports that some Sunni and Shi'ite MPs may unite to force a confidence vote in parliament.
In Ermeli, however, the mourners had no stomach for politics. Many refused even to greet a government delegation sent to inspect the rescue effort.
Created by keza
Last modified 2007-07-08 09:47 PM
Last modified 2007-07-08 09:47 PM