Saturday, July 07, 2007

Surge Rules

BBC - A deadly truck bombing in a busy market in northern Iraq has killed 105 people and injured 240, police say.

The morning blast destroyed the market in the small town of Amirli, south of Kirkuk, killing many people instantly and trapping dozens among the rubble.

It was the deadliest single attack in Iraq since April, correspondents say.

It came as 29 people were killed in separate violence, including 22 people who died overnight in Diyala province when a suicide bomber hit a cafe.


An extra 30,000 US troops have been deployed in Iraq, mainly in and around the capital Baghdad, since the launch of the security drive or "surge" in February.

The BBC World Service is monitoring its effects, week by week, by looking at military casualty figures, the pressure on hospitals and quality of life for ordinary civilians.

The build-up of US troops in Iraq is now complete. The level of violence has not decreased, with attacks shifting away from places where US forces are concentrated, such as Baghdad and Anbar, into other, less defended provinces.

During the seven-day period ending on 4 July, there were 617 violent deaths compared to 299 for the week before. As in the previous two weeks, most of those killed were civilians - 365 of them. There was also a big increase in the reported deaths of insurgents, up from 98 dead last week to 175.

These figures are from the Iraqi Interior Ministry, whose figures are consistently lower than anyone else's estimates of casualties.

As everyday life goes on despite the violence, Iraqi civilians have to contend with other difficulties - from long power cuts and lack of jobs to fuel queues.

The families helping paint a picture of these hardships in this survey are from different areas of the city - which can mean different pressures according to the religious make-up of the area and the subsequent security risks.

If anything, they report petrol being even more expensive than last week and they are getting less electricity from the grid - for two of the families less than an hour on average per day.

Food shortages are also a problem in some quarters - people said they had difficulty buying food in al-Fadhil this week because the neighbourhood was shut down by the national guards after fighting broke out between locals and the Mehdi army militia.

One of the hospitals covered by the survey provides some grim details about the death toll.

Al-Yarmouk received 10 limbs with the rest of the bodies missing, 22 victims who had been beheaded, 45 people killed by one car bomb alone in the al-Baaya district and the bodies of 13 people who had been shot in the head.

Baghdad Killings 'Rise Sharply'

The number of unidentified bodies found in Baghdad has increased despite the launch of a security drive in the capital in February, Iraqi police say.

They say that 540 corpses - many of them tortured or mutilated - were discovered in the city in June.

The number is still considerably lower than in 2006, when the monthly total of bodies found at times exceeded 1,000.

Four million Iraqis have fled their home since the invasion. That is 15% of the country's population.

Ken Bacon, the president of Refugees International, is critical of the U.S. reaction to the crisis.

"The American response to this I think has been pretty pathetic," said Bacon. "The reason is that I think it is very politically difficult for us to admit that one of the consequences of our intervention in Iraq is an exodus from the country because every refugee who leaves is a vote of no confidence against the American program."

And don't forget, Iran sucks too.


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