Monday, October 26, 2009

Just another day in the life and death of Iraq XCI

Yes, things have gotten better in Iraq. Perhaps even a lot better, if the lack of media coverage is any indication that the bloodshed has subsided. Indeed, we haven't done a "Just another day" post since the end of April, if I remember correctly. Not that this blog is the definitive word on the situation in Iraq, of course, but it's telling, I think, that there just hasn't been that much to write about when it comes to the sort of horrendous violence that rocked Iraq for so long.

Yesterday, though, saw a return to the darker days of years past, with bloody attacks in Baghdad:

Two powerful suicide car bombs near high-profile government offices rocked the capital on Sunday in the deadliest attack here in more than two years, killing at least 147 people and raising fresh worry about the capabilities of Iraq's security services ahead of national elections scheduled for January.

The Ministry of Interior said that in addition to the dead, more than 500 people were injured. Charred bodies, limbs and the smoldering shells of dozens of cars littered the area. The explosions also shattered windows throughout the nearby Mansour Hotel, which houses the Chinese Embassy. Some ceilings collapsed.

The blasts, which the government said bore the signature of al Qaeda in Iraq, most damaged Baghdad's provincial headquarters and the nearby federal Ministry of Justice. Many of the protective blast walls surrounding those buildings collapsed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited the site of the attacks and blamed al Qaeda and members of the Baath party. His office said in a statement that the explosions were meant to create instability and to stop the January parliamentary elections.

President Barack Obama called the attacks an attempt to "derail Iraq's progress." He said the U.S. "will stand with Iraq's people and government as a close friend and partner as Iraqis prepare for elections early next year." The president spoke with Mr. Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani by phone to express his condolences.

Evidently, it's not yet clear who was behind the attacks, though it may very well have been al Qaeda or Sunni insurgents opposed to the positive direction the country seems to be heading in. What is clear, though, is that, while violence continues throughout the country, yesterday was the exception, not the rule, which is a drastic change from the way things were not so very long ago.

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