Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Just another day in the life and death of Iraq XL

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Today was a horrible day in Iraq -- perhaps no more horrible than other days, but the violence had a twist to it:

A cloud of deadly toxic gas engulfed an Iraqi town Tuesday, killing six people and leaving dozens of others choking on fumes after a tanker carrying chlorine exploded outside a restaurant.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said the blast in the town of Taji, 12 miles (20 km) north of Baghdad, was caused by a bomb on board the tanker.

There were contrasting figures on the casualty toll. Baghdad security plan spokesman Gen. Qassim Atta told state-run al-Iraqiya TV that five people died in the blast and 148 were poisoned by the gas.

At least 20 people were killed throughout the country -- at least: it's likely that many violent deaths went unreported. Here's a rundown:

-- "A bomber wearing a suicide vest detonated his explosives in a funeral tent on eastern Baghdad's Palestine Street, killing five and wounding 15 others. The attack took place before 5 p.m."

-- "In southwestern Baghdad, a car bomb exploded outside a fuel station in the Sadiya district, killing six people and wounding 11 more, police said."

-- "In southern Baghdad, police said, a car bomb exploded near a market in the Rashid district, leaving five dead and seven wounded."

-- "In Tikrit, a would-be suicide bomber wearing an explosives vest was shot and killed by authorities outside an Iraqi army recruitment center, police said. Tikrit is about 80 miles north of the Iraqi capital in Salaheddin province."

And:

Iraqi police reported finding 20 bodies across Baghdad on Monday.

Among these, an attack by three suicide car bombers near a U.S.-Iraqi outpost killed two American soldiers and eight Iraqi police officers, Iraqi officials told CNN.

The U.S. military confirmed the American deaths and said 17 U.S. troops were wounded in the "coordinated attack" north of Baghdad, but it did not reveal the strike's exact location.

I must say, CNN does a pretty good job reporting the various incidents of violence that plague Iraq each and every day.

As I've said before, it's important that these incidents are not only reported and given prominence by the major news outlets but that we who are consumers of the news do not neglect to inform ourselves of the violence that plagues Iraq. If we avoid the coverage of the violence or allow ourselves to become numb to it or otherwise neglect to attend to the human cost of the war, the lives lost on all sides, including the innocent civilian victims who are directly targeted or caught in the crossfire, then we have already lost what allegedly differentiates "us" from "them".

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