[Marxism] Slaughter in Iraqi Kurdistan kills many Kurdish leaders and four Palestinians

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Feb 1 17:46:32 MST 2004

Mark Jensen is a university professor and a well-informed and frequent
correspondent to the Seattle-based SNOW-News peace list.
Fred Feldman

Many key political figures are among dozens reported dead in suicide
bomb attacks on branch offices of two different Kurdish political
parties in Irbil
(also spelled 'Erbil'), a city of half a million that is one of the
oldest continuously settled towns in the world and the site of the
Kurdish parliament.  Among those reported dead are "the governor of
the region, ministers in the local administration and several senior
officials and two deputy chiefs" of the Kurdish Patriotic
nion.  --Mark Jensen


Associated Press February 1, 2004 -- 12:18 p.m. EST

** At least 56 killed; 235 wounded in attacks; death toll could rise


IRBIL, Iraq -- Two suicide bombers struck the offices of two
U.S.-backed Kurdish parties in near-simultaneous attacks Sunday as
hundreds of Iraqis gathered to celebrate a Muslim holiday.  At least
56 people were killed and more than 235 were wounded, officials said.

One Kurdish minister said the death toll could exceed 100.  The U.S.
command in Baghdad put the casualty toll at 56 dead and more than 200
were injured. Kurdish officials said 57 were dead and the count could
go higher.

The attack was believed to be the deadliest since an Aug. 29 car
bombing in the holy city of Najaf killed Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir
al-Hakim and more than
100 others as they emerged from Friday prayers.

It was also believed to have been the first in which the suicide
attackers wired bombs to themselves and detonated them while on foot,
akin to the suicide attacks by Palestinian militants in Israel.

There have been a series of suicide car bombings in Iraq in recent
weeks, raising concern that al-Qaida may be behind some of the
attacks.  Nobody claimed responsibility.  However, a radical Kurdish
group, Ansar al-Islam, operates in the Kurdish region and has been
linked by U.S. officials to al-Qaida.


Also Sunday, about 20 Iraqis were killed when they accidentally set
off an explosion while looting a former Iraqi munitions dump in the
Polish-controlled south-central region of the country, a spokesman for
Polish-led international peacekeepers said.

The blast occurred after midnight in the desert about 112 miles
southwest of Karbala after Iraqis broke into the munitions storage
site, military spokesman Col. Robert Strzelecki said.  Karbala is
about 60 miles southwest of Baghdad. U.S. military officials had no
information on the blast.


The suicide attacks at the Irbil offices of the Kurdistan Democratic
Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan occurred as party leaders
were receiving hundreds of visitors to mark the start of the four-day
Muslim holiday, Eid Al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice.  Security
guards for both parties said they did not search people entering for
the ceremony because of the tradition of receiving guests during the
Eid festivities.

Although the final death toll was unclear, the attack was a
devastating blow to the political leadership of the Kurdish minority,
the most pro-American group in Iraq.  The dead included the governor
of the region, ministers in the local administration and several
senior officials and two deputy chiefs of the patriotic union, [said]
Mohammed Ihsan, the minister for human rights for the Kurdish regional
government, and other officials.

Irbil city morgue director Tawana Kareem told the AP that 57 bodies
were brought to the morgue and “figures are increasing.”  At least 235
people were admitted to the city’s three hospitals with injuries,
medical sources told The Associated Press.

“These figures are estimates but I believe about 60 people were killed
at the PUK and about 80 at the KDP.  There are a tremendous number of
injured,” Ihsan said.

“On the first day of Eid we receive people and well-wishers and that’s
why security wasn’t as tight as during the rest of the days.  They
(the attackers) took advantage of this.

U.S. military officials had said they were prepared for any upsurge of
violence in connection with the holiday.  The start of the Islamic
fasting month of Ramadan last year marked a sharp escalation in
violence against the U.S.-led coalition and its Iraqi allies.

Ihsan said the targeted sites were the parties’ branch offices, about
eight miles apart.

A state of emergency was declared in the Kurdish area, and doctors
have been asked to return from vacation.  An urgent appeal has been
issued to residents to donate blood.

The dead include Irbil Gov. Akram Mintik, Deputy Prime Minister Sami
Abdul Rahman, Minister of Council of Ministers Affairs Shawkat Sheik
Yazdin and Agriculture Minister Saad Abdullah, Ihsan said.  Irbil is
about 320 kilometers
(200 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad.

The PUK and KDP parties control the Kurdish-dominated provinces of
northern Iraq where most of the country’s minority Kurds live.

Thousands of people crowded outside Irbil’s hospital looking for loved
ones but were kept out by police.  At the Rizgari Hospital morgue,
bodies covered with blankets in the corridors and blood all over the
floor.  Outside, women wailed, men sobbed, holding their heads and
beating their heads and chests in grief.

Officials said the top Kurdish leaders were greeting people when the
attacker approached them and detonated the explosives strapped around
his body.

The second attack took place at about the same time in the PUK office
across town, PUK spokesman Kadhim Ali said.  Several people were
killed and injured in the PUK attack, he said.

Hours after the attack, a mangled head believed to be that of the
bomber lay on the floor of the Kurdistan Democratic Party office.
Blood and bits of flesh were spattered on the walls and ceilings.

Irbil houses the Kurdish parliament.  Under U.S.-led aerial
protection, Iraqi Kurds, ethnically distinct from the majority Arabs,
have ruled a Switzerland-sized swath of northern Iraq since the end of
the Gulf War more than a decade ago.

The last major attack in Irbil occurred Dec. 24 when a suicide bomber
detonated an explosives-packed car in front of the Kurdish Interior
Ministry, killing four civilians and wounding 101.


The latest attacks coincided with a visit to Baghdad by Deputy Defense
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who arrived on Saturday to boost the morale
of troops.  Wolfowitz, whose visit was not disclosed before his
arrival, was planning to watch the Super Bowl with U.S. troops Sunday,
but it was not known where.

The suicide bombings came a day after a car bomb outside a police
station in the northern city of Mosul killed at least nine people and
wounded 45.  It was unclear whether that attack was a suicide bombing
or whether the driver fled before the explosion.  U.S. officials have
said recent vehicle bombings and suicide attacks in Iraq bear the mark
of al-Qaida.

Hours later, a mortar attack hit a Baghdad neighborhood, killing five
people and wounding four.

Also Saturday, three U.S. soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division were
killed in a roadside bombing near the northern oil center of Kirkuk.
Their deaths brought to 522 the number of American service members who
have died since the Iraq war began March 20.

The mortar landed in the Baladiyaat neighborhood, a predominantly
Palestinian immigrant area, on Saturday night, gouging a crater in the
ground and sending shrapnel flying.

Four Palestinian residents were killed, neighbors and relatives said.
The fifth victim was an Iraqi who was visiting the area, they said.

Residents on Sunday carried the bodies of the four Palestinians in
coffins draped in Palestinian flags from a mosque to their homes
before taking them to a cemetery for burial.  Some young men in the
funeral procession fired rifles in the air, a traditional Arab

Although it was not known who fired the mortar, angry mourners blamed
the United States.

Many women in the procession sobbed.  Men chanted “Allahu Akbar!”, or
“God is Great!”, “America is the enemy of Allah!” and “A martyr is God
’s beloved!

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