You are herecontent / Bombs Sweep Baghdad; Cleric Faults US
Bombs Sweep Baghdad; Cleric Faults US
By Sabrina Tavernise, New York Times
Baghdad - A spasm of violence seized the capital on Monday. Forty-six Iraqis were killed in six bombings across the city and a moderate Sunni Arab figure was gunned down by two men on motorcycles.
The American toll for October rose to 102, the highest since January 2005, with the military's announcement of three more deaths.
In a single deadly strike, 33 Shiite laborers gathered around food stalls in a Sadr City square were killed when a bomb in a bag exploded at 6 a.m., scattering glasses of tea and remains of breakfasts. The workers had been waiting for offers of $10-a-day jobs.
The attacks continued as the American national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, met in Baghdad with Iraqi officials. He came to discuss the work of a committee set up by the leaders of the two governments on Sunday, whose aim includes giving Iraqis more control over their troops.
The attack in Sadr City came despite the American Army cordon that has been in place for a week in a search for a missing soldier, whom the military believes was taken there. It was the fifth bomb in the area, Al Mudhafar Square, where poor workers line up to seek work, said Haidar Said, a police captain on duty when the bomb exploded.
"Please deliver this message," said Officer Said. "This city has suffered a lot. These are poor people. We want to reach our voice to the world."
It is attacks like the one in Sadr City, a Shiite slum, that anger Shiite leaders and put pressure on Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite, to press for more of a hand in security, which is controlled almost exclusively by the American military.
The security cordon has caused major traffic jams and cut off much of the movement in and out of the area, drawing the ire of Iraqis. The district is the center of support for Moktada al-Sadr, a radical cleric who called on his followers to fight American troops twice in 2004. In a statement on Monday, Mr. Sadr threatened action if the American cordon continued.
"If this siege continues for long, we will resort to actions that I will have no choice but to take, God willing, and when the time is right," he said, according to The Associated Press.
Less than an hour after the bomb struck, two men on motorcycles shot and killed Issam al-Rawi, a geology professor, on his way to class. Two associates were wounded. Born in 1949, Mr. Rawi was one of the most moderate voices among Sunni Arabs. But the violence here has radicalized many Iraqis, and moderates who refuse to yield to the militants are either being killed or driven out of the country.
"They murdered one of the few burning candles," said Abdul Mahdi Talib, dean of the Science College at Baghdad University. "We considered him a man for all."
In the Green Zone, a walled area where the Iraqi government and American Embassy are located, Mr. Hadley met with his opposite number, Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie. In a statement, Mr. Rubaie said the men discussed the work of a committee established by Mr. Maliki and President Bush to speed training for the Iraqi Army.
The talks felt far away to Officer Said, the police captain, who spent most of the morning gathering bodies in the square in Sadr City. He described a horrific tableau of staggering wounded victims and of bodies missing limbs. Some families lost several members. In one Sadr City hospital, four brothers were being treated. Two died and two others were wounded, with one losing his leg, said a visitor at the hospital.
A politician who supports Mr. Sadr, Nasir al-Saidi, was at the hospital and he spoke angrily against the American military and the Iraqi government as victims were rushed in.
Officer Said said the cordon actually hindered the authorities' ability to move the victims to hospitals outside.
One of the wounded blamed the cordon for blocking the Mahdi Army, the grass-roots fighting force of Mr. Sadr's supporters, and in turn making the neighborhood less safe.
The cordon "forced Mahdi Army members who were patrolling the streets to vanish," said Ali Abdul Ridha, who was lying next to his brother in a hospital bed, The A.P. reported.
Others, though, said the militia was the reason why the bomb was planted.
The bombs kept exploding, killing Iraqis in small but steady numbers. Some of the Sadr City victims were taken to Yarmouk Hospital, and there a bomb went off around 2:30 p.m., killing one person and wounding five more. In the Bayaa neighborhood, 4 people were killed and 15 wounded. In Amel, a mixed area, three were killed and six wounded.
In another assassination, Raad Naem al-Jeheshi, a Shiite who led an organization of former Iraqi prisoners, was gunned down in Dora, a Sunni suburb that American troops had swept.
The militants' use of government uniforms for deception continued in a particularly grim way on Monday, when a suicide bomber dressed as a police officer passed through two checkpoints in the police headquarters in Kirkuk, north of Baghdad. Three people were killed, including a 5-year-old, the child of a woman who works as a cleaner. Thirteen were wounded.
Total Iraqi deaths reported for the day was 81, The A.P. said, including bodies found in rivers near Baghdad.
Violence in Baghdad was also responsible for an American's death, when a member of the 89th Military Police Brigade was killed Monday in the eastern part of the city. Another soldier died when the vehicle in which he was riding was struck by an explosive device south of Baghdad.
The other American whose death was tallied on Monday was a marine who was killed in fighting in Anbar Province the day before.
Hosham Hussein, Sahar Nageeb and Qais Mizher contributed reporting.