Evil American actions in Iraq cause death & mayham
Suicide Bomber Kills 31 in Iraq
By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, November 24, 2005; 6:06 PM
BAGHDAD, Nov. 24 -- A suicide attacker steered a car packed with explosives toward U.S. soldiers giving away toys to children outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 31 people. Almost all of the victims were women and children, police said.
A total of 53 people were killed in bombings and gunfire around the country. The dead included two American soldiers killed by a roadside bomb outside Baghdad. The U.S. military also reported the deaths of three other American troops from roadside bombings on Wednesday in Baghdad and in the city of Hit, west of the capital.
Roughly 140,000 Americans in uniform passed the third Thanksgiving in Iraq. Private contractors barricaded against the rest of Iraq by concrete blast walls and concertina wire and squads of soldiers, dined on turkey, lobster and steak flown into the country.
U.S. military helicopters ferried top U.S. commander Gen. George Casey from base to base, passing on Thanksgiving greetings and encouragement to American forces.
The American military's service in Iraq was "a huge sacrifice, but a sacrifice for a good cause," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told troops in Baghdad, according to The Associated Press.
There was no immediate word Thursday of any top-level surprise holiday visits to U.S. troops in war zones by members of the Bush administration. President Bush, who showed up with a turkey for Thanksgiving in Iraq in 2003, instead called service members in Iraq and Afghanistan from his Texas ranch with holiday wishes, U.S. officials said.
Iraqi security officials said they believed either Iraqi police or U.S. forces were the target of Thursday's bombing outside the general hospital in Mahmudiyah, a town of mixed Shiite and Sunni Arab population in a cluster south of Baghdad known since the U.S. invasion as the Triangle of Death.
Only one policeman was among the dead, however, said Capt. Muthanna Ahmad, spokesman for police in Babil province. Four American forces were wounded in what Iraqi forces described as a toy giveaway.
"It was an explosion at the gate of the hospital," one woman who had wounds on her face and legs told the A.P. "My children are gone. My brother is gone."
With no room left inside the hospital, emergency workers rushed the wounded to hospitals in Baghdad. With no room left in the hospital morgue, they were forced to place the rows of dead in the hospital garden for family members to find and retrieve.
Ahmad said late Thursday that an Iraqi legislator, Jafar Muhammad, was among the dead. Suspected insurgent attacks have killed two other National Assembly members.
Unlike U.S. military deaths in Iraq, no fully documented count is maintained for civilian deaths in bombings and ambushes since U.S. troops overthrew Saddam Hussein. In Baghdad on Thursday, a spokesman for Iraq's interim government, led by religious parties of the Shiite majority, reiterated a warning that violence, particularly against Iraqi soldiers and police, would likely accelerate ahead of elections scheduled for Dec. 15, to elect Iraq's first permanent post-war government.
"They are trying to challenge the state's authority, and spread the impression there is no state structure or authority in Iraq, to promote a sense of despair among citizens," said Laith Kubba, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari.
Kubba also announced discovery of arms caches in the northern city of Tall Afar, calling it "surprising" since the United States and Iraqi forces in recent months carried a third full-scale offensive there. The discovery "means there are some terrorist cells still operating there" despite the U.S. offensive, he noted.
Thursday's other fatalities included five people killed in a market in Hilla, an overwhelmingly Shiite town south of Baghdad. "There were no police or army at the scene when the car exploded -- so all the casualties were Shiite civilians," police spokesman Ahmad said. News agencies said the car exploded outside a soft-drink stand on Thursday evening. For Muslims, the evening marks the start of the weekend, when many fathers take their families out for snacks and strolls.
Other killings around Iraq included a close-range attack that killed three bodyguards of the country's industries minister in Baghdad, and a Baghdad ambush that killed four police officers.
Special correspondent Saad Sarhan contributed to this report from Najaf.