Iraqi Resistance Report for Sunday, 25 January 2004 through Wednesday, 28 January 2004. Translated and/or compiled by Muhammad Abu Nasr, member, editorial board, the Free Arab Voice.
Sunday, 25 January 2004.
Amidst what appears to be a battle between the Resistance and occupation forces in the area of Mosul, a US military occupation helicopter crashed Sunday in the Tigris River in the city while searching for a soldier. Both helicopter crew members were listed as missing, a spokeswoman said. The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter was searching for a US occupation soldier missing when the boat he was in "capsized" earlier Sunday, the spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity. The soldier was on a river patrol with three other soldiers and some Iraqi puppet policemen, she said. The other three soldiers were safe but two Iraqi puppet police officers and an Iraqi translator are reported dead, said the spokeswoman. She did not say what caused the crash of the helicopter, attached to the 101st Airborne Division.
A later statement by the occupation forces and Iraqi puppet police claimed that the helicopter went down after striking an electric pole. Local witnesses told al-Jazeera that the helicopter plunged into the Tigris River.
At least one indication that the Iraqi Resistance was active in the area was a report by a Reuters photographer, mentioned in the Jordanian daily al-Arab al-Yawm for Monday, 26 January. According to the newspaper, the Reuters photographer said that one Iraqi puppet policeman had been killed as a result of a shot to the head from a speeding car while he was taking part in the search for the missing American who had been on the river patrol.
A US occupation soldier died Sunday of wounds suffered in a grenade attack on his Bradley vehicle that was patrolling a central Iraqi town of Bayji, 200km north of Baghdad, the day before, said Major Josslyn Aberle, a spokeswoman for the 4th Infantry Division. Resistance fighters fired the rocket propelled grenade at the Bradley in the town of Bayji, north of Tikrit, late Saturday, piercing the driver's compartment and critically wounding the soldier. The soldier was evacuated to a military hospital, where he died.
A second Bradley fighting vehicle returned fire toward the area from where the grenade was launched, and soldiers later captured six men who were in the possession of a grenade launcher, Aberle said.
A roadside bomb detonated in the center of Baghdad on Sunday morning as two American Humvees were passing, but no injuries were reported. A US military occupation spokesman said that the bomb, concealed in a mound of garbage, detonated as the vehicles passed but caused no casualties. Local resident 'Aql Abu Zahrah said that he was walking by the area at the time and that the bomb went off after the second US vehicle had passed. Sajidah Nu'man said she saw four men around the mound of garbage before the American vehicles went by.
After the blast, American troops searched through the garbage looking for other possible explosive devices.
An Iraqi officer in the puppet police was killed and a number of other puppet policemen wounded when a bomb exploded on the Kirkuk – Dibs road.
An Iraqi driver was shot to death by US occupation forces when he tried to pass an American military convoy in Kirkuk.
In Mosul a security official in the Mosul Province puppet council survived an assassination attempt – the third such attempt in a week.
An official in the collaborationist Kurdish chauvinist party the so-called Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which is led by Jalal Talibani, said that one of their organization's offices came under rocket attack on Saturday night but that the missile missed its target and hit a neighboring house but caused no casualties.
Sunday, US invaders arrested 46 people and confiscated weapons in several raids in Iraq, after a series of bombings that killed six US occupation troops. Occupation soldiers raided several locations in Baaquba, 60km northeast of the capital, and captured 46 people including three men suspected of involvement in Resistance activities, Aberle said. The remaining 43 were detained for possessing weapons without authorization, she said. In Mukayshifah, a town south of Tikrit, soldiers raided a house Saturday and confiscated 220 hand grenades, Aberle said.
Al-Jazeera television announced that the US occupation forces in Iraq have released al-Jazeera cameraman, Sahib as-Samarra'I who had been arrested last November. A spokesman for the popular Qatar-based satellite television company stated that as-Samarra'i was released from Abu Ghurayb prison west of Baghdad after the occupation authorities found nothing to hold against him.
As-Samarra'i was arrested and his camera and film cassettes confiscated on 18 November 2003 as he was filming events in the Iraqi city of Samarra'.During the more than two months in which he was in prison, as-Samarra'i was never charged with any offense.
Sources: al-Arab al-Yawm daily newspaper, Amman, Jordan, Monday, 26 January 2004.
Monday, 26 January 2004.
The Lebanese satellite TV channel LBC reported on Monday that the American proconsul in Iraqi, L. Paul Bremer survived an assassination attempt that was made against his motorcade in al-'Amiriyyah district in Baghdad. Informed sources said that a sniper struck one of the wheels of a car in the motorcade, causing it to flip over and kill or injure those inside. It is evident that Bremer was riding in a different car at the time, as the motorcade sped away from the scene of the Resistance attack.
This is the second reported attempt on the life of the American governor of occupied Iraq, the first having been a Resistance attack on the road from Baghdad to Saddam International Airport which took place as Bremer returned from seeing off the US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.
Al-Jazeera reported that six Iraqi puppet policemen were killed and others wounded in two separate rocket and machine gun attacks on two puppet police locations. Four of those Iraqi puppet policemen were apparently killed when Iraqi Resistance fighters opened fire on the al-Jazirah station north of the city of ar-Ramadi, an incident reported earlier by the chief of the station Major Ahmad Muhammad ad-Dulaymi. The other dead and wounded puppet policemen apparently fell at a check point set up by the puppet police at the eastern approach to ar-Ramadi.
An official in the puppet police directorate for the province of Mosul said on Monday that one Iraqi puppet policeman had been killed on Sunday night when Iraqi Resistance fighters opened fire on him. The fighters escaped.
Al-Jazeera TV reported that two Iraqi puppet policemen were killed and three others wounded, two of them severely, on Monday evening when Iraqi Resistance fighters attacked a puppet police check point at the entrance to al-Fares residential compound near 'Amiriyat al-Fallujah.
Al-Jazeera also reported on the authority of eyewitnesses said that Iraqi Resistance fighters opened fire on members of the puppet police in al-Basrah and then escaped.
Al-Jazeera's correspondent also reports from an-Najaf that the local headquarters of the American occupation forces and also the headquarters of the so-called multinational forces serving the US occupiers came under two separate rocket attacks. Fires could be seen burning in the multinational headquarters where troops from Spain and El Salvador are centered.
Spanish occupation forces immediately launched a campaign of raids and searches of the buildings and homes adjacent to their headquarters. The Spanish occupation troops prevented ambulances and fire trucks belonging to the puppet so-called Iraqi civil defense forces in an-Najaf from getting into the area of the two attacks. Initial reports provided no information as to the extent of occupation forces losses in casualties or destruction.
The Japanese Defense Ministry announced in Tokyo on Monday that a truck carrying supplies for the Japanese occupation troops serving the Americans in Iraq had been attacked near Baghdad, killing the Jordanian driver of the vehicle. That attack came just hours before the Japanese government ordered 600 of its infantry to Iraq in the first ground deployment of Japanese military forces in a battle zone since the defeat of the Japanese militarist aggressors in 1945.
A Japanese spokesman said that the attack on the supply truck occurred in ar-Ramadi west of Baghdad as the vehicle was transporting a prefabricated building intended to house a Japanese occupation officer who will be taking up work in Baghdad. The Japanese official said "it is not clear that the attack was aimed specifically at Japan since the truck and its cargo carried no sign indicating that they were Japanese."
An officer in the puppet so-called civil defense forces in Iraq reported that two Iraqis who had been in a minibus were killed and two others injured seriously on Monday when a bomb went of in the southern part of Baghadad. The officer, Mustafa Tareq, told Agence France Presse (AFP) that "a passenger in a south Korean-made Kia minibus asked to get off in a certain point on the road and as it pulled over, the bus struck a mine which exploded. The disembarking passenger and one other were killed, while the minibus driver and another passenger were wounded." Tareq added that the bomb was apparently planted in the road with the intention of detonating as an American convoy passed the spot, since the US occupation troops are constantly using this road which leads to the puppet police station located a mere 200 meters from the site of the explosion.
Witness 'Isam Khudayr, his clothes covered in blood, said that he "heard the sound of a powerful explosion that shook the whole area." Khudayr said: "when I came out of my shop I saw the bus overturned and on fire so my companion and I hurried over there to save the people inside. One of them was already dead with his limbs blown off. Another had severe head wounds, and he died on the way to al-Yarmuk hospital. Two others had various injuries and were taken to the hospital."
According to the AFP, US occupation forces and Iraqi puppet police cordoned off the street leading to where the explosion took place. One of them shouted through a loudspeaker from an American jeep to the crowd who had gathered at the bomb scene to disperse or else they would be arrested. Nevertheless, many local people, in particular unemployed youths remained at the site watching what was taking place and watching curiously the activities of the American occupation soldiers and the members of the puppet police and puppet so-called civil defense forces. Later three of those youths were arrested for not paying attention to the instructions. Subsequently one of the three was released after his mother came and implored the Americans to release him.
A commander of the Iraqi puppet police in Kirkuk province, Lieutenant General Shirgu Shakir Hakim told the AFP that the Iraqi puppet police had arrested on Monday two high-ranking "former" officers in the Iraqi intelligence service in Kirkuk and claimed that they had "large quantities" of weapons in their possession. He said that they were arrested on their way to Kirkuk from Tikrit. The officers, Shakir Mahmud, an intelligence officer from Tikrit, and Muhsin 'Abdallah from al-Bu 'Ajil on the outskirts of Tikrit. The puppet police commander said that the American forces had released 'Abdallah just three days previously. He claimed that when the puppet police arrested the two on Monday they had weapons, military maps and telephone numbers of Baath Party members and ranking intelligence officers in the Iraqi intelligence service in their possession.
In keeping with their servile role, the puppet police handed the two captives over to the American occupation forces four hours after their capture, according to puppet Lieutenant General Hakim.
A correspondent for the Agence France Presse (AFP) reports that about 2,000 Iraqi pilgrims to Mecca held a demonstration on Monday on the Iraq-Kuwait border in the area of Safwan, to protest the fact that Kuwaiti busses which were supposed to pick them up from the border and take them to Kuwait airport for a flight to Saudi Arabia where they would take part in the Hajj pilgrimage had not arrived.
The angry demonstrators assembled two kilometers from the Kuwaiti border on the expressway linking the two states near the camp that the pilgrims had built and where they have been staying for six days waiting for the busses.
Haytham 'Isa, Chairman of the al-Basrah Branch of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society said "all of those pilgrims have original entry visas from both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia but they have been stuck at the border for six days because the busses that were supposed to take them to Kuwait airport for a flight to Saudi Arabia have not come." He said, "the deputy [puppet] governor of al-Basrah, Brigadier General 'Ali Shani, came to visit us today and reviewed our situation and then headed to the border to discuss the problem with Kuwaiti officials and the possibility of finding a solution."
Demonstrator Karim Hadi (45 years old) from al-Hillah said that "people appear on Iraqi TV and claim that there are no problems regarding the Iraqi Hajj pilgrims, contrary to the reality which is that we are now in our sixth day on the border and don't know what our fate is to be."
Demonstrator Ra'id Shaker Kazem, 40, from the city of al-Kut said "each one of us paid about US$700 to cover the cost of transportation and lodging but they have left us here for days and there are only a few days left for us to get there in time to perform the pilgrimage."
An official with the Saudi Ministry of Pilgrimage declared that more than 30,000 Iraqi pilgrims have come to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj rites in Mecca and another 3,000 are still expected to arrive shortly.
Al-Jazeera reported that the US occupation forces on Monday released a new batch of Iraqi prisoners from the various concentration camps that the invaders maintain in the occupied country. About 300 prisoners were released Mondy as a part of a US-announced program to release 506 prisoners on condition that some local guarantor agrees to take responsibility for their behavior, and on condition that they pledge in writing to "renounce violence."
That figure – 506 prisoners – if they ever really are released, would amount to less than five percent of the more than 12,000 prisoners which the Associated Press recently reported were in the hands of US occupation authorities in Iraq. Recently released prisoners report that the concentration camps in which they were held are severely overcrowded and that one main reason for the releases is simply to relieve that congestion, as the flow of new prisoners into the camps continues unabated.
Special Report from al-Arab al-Yawm on Iraqi prisons.
According to a report by Ahmad Sabri carried in Tuesday's edition of the Jordanian newspaper al-Arab al-Yawm, Iraqis who have been held prisoner by the American occupation forces have been subjected to most brutal forms of physical and psychological torture in five large detention camps, particularly those at Abu Ghurayb, west of Baghdad, and Umm Qasr, near al-Basrah in the south.
Former prisoners have offered testimonials on the inhuman practices of the occupation authorities to the newspaper al-Arab al-Yawm, saying that the number of those imprisoned by the occupation authorities exceeds 10,000 prisoners and that the release of some of them early in January cam as a result of intense overcrowding of the prisons and concentration camps, in addition to the fact that the arrests were arbitrary and based on no evidence, and that no real charges were ever filed against the prisoners. Most of the prisoners, in fact, were civilian citizens arrested for "suspicion" – something that pertains to every Iraqi in the eyes of the occupation forces.
In their testimonies, the former prisoners disclosed having seen a number of former Iraqi officials arrested and fettered and held in solitary confinement cells without any consideration for their health or the conditions of their confinement in the cases of many of these individuals.
The following is a translation of the story written by Ahmad Sabri, Baghdad correspondent for al-Arab al-Yawm and published in that newspaper's edition for Tuesday, 27 January 2004.
Baghdad – al-Arab al-Yawm – by Ahmad Sabri. Iraqi prisoners released by the American occupation forces recently are describing what they were subjected to during the periods of their detention and how and where they were arrested. In talks with al-Arab al-Yawm they have disclosed that Abu Ghurayb central prison camp, in which thousands of Iraqis are being held, was subjected on several occasions to mortar attacks resulting in the death of dozens of the prisoners and the American forces charged with controlling the prison camp.
Prisoner 'Ali Mahmud, who spent about five months in five different prison camps in various parts of Iraq before winding up in Abu Ghurayb, said that the charge against him was not based on any evidence but was merely slander. Yet the way he was captured was outrageous. "They raided my home in al-Karakh district late at night, provocatively wrecking our household goods. They stole five million dinars from my house and arrested three of my sons."
Mahmud said that the investigators used psychological torture on him throughout long hours of interrogation sessions during which his hands and feet were bound in iron chains.
Mahmud, who is known as 'Ali Mama, did not claim that he was beaten but said that some of the investigators used threats and intimidation regarding what would happen to him if he did not confess to his connections with Saddam and wit the so-called Army of Muhammad, connections with which he denied. Because he denied any connection with the Resistance, Mahmud says he was stripped naked and confined to an empty cell.
Mahmud described how during his imprisonment there he was subjected to a harsh form of punishment in which the jailers would pour water on his naked body, bringing on sickness. "I got terrible diarrhea and have fainting spells which I am now seeing a doctor about."
Mahmud described the food as "poor", saying that it is insufficient for the prisoners. He said that an Iraqi contractor prepares the food, which he said was spoiled.
'Ali Mahmud said that during his time of incarceration there, Abu Ghurayb prison camp was on several times subjected to mortar attacks which left dozens of prisoners and some American occupation soldiers dead. He said that tents pitched on the dirt are "home" to most of the prisoners in the prison camps of ar-Ridwaniyah, Abu al-Khasib, al-Baghdadi, and parts of Abu Ghurayb prison camp.
Mahmud estimated the number of Iraqi prisoners in the camps that he spent time in during his five months of detention as being more than 10,000 prisoners. He said that the reason for the release of prisoners is that the prisons have filled up and are seriously overcrowded.
Asked whether he had seen Iraqi officials during his time of imprisonment he answered: "Yes, I saw Iraqi officials. They were in miserable conditions. They have no care, and were badly treated. Among them was Saadun Hammadi, Speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly; Minister of Trade Muhammad Mahdi Salih; and Samir an-Najm; and high-ranking Iraqi Army officers."
Mahmud noted that the American forces had not allowed him any contact with his family nor was he allowed to send any letters or receive any visits from officials of the Red Cross Organization.
Another prisoner released in the first batch of prison releases a few weeks back hails from the city of al-Fallujah. I met Hamed 'Abdallah in front of Abu Ghurayb prison camp. He told me "the charge against me was possession of unlicensed weapons and that I aided the Resistance fighters. I denied this totally. I explained that I am a student in my last stages of study and that the American forces' raid on my home came as a total surprise."
"They took me to Abu Ghurayb prison," Hamed 'Abdallah explained, "where I spent most of the three months that I spent incarcerated."
Hamed 'Abdallah said that the conditions in prison were "bad", causing him to break his leg and suffer serious pains in his spinal cord as a result of what he said was the intense torture whose severity he managed to endure.
He said that prisoners from al-Fallujah are singled out for specially harsh and brutal treatment because the American occupation forces in the area of the city come under Resistance attack virtually every day. This leaves a negative impression on the al-Fallujah prisoners who, he estimated, number in the hundreds in the American prison camps.
Hamed 'Abdallah said that the US forces put cameras up in every part of the prison camp to observe the prisoners and monitor their movements and communications, as a result of which dozens of them were isolated and tortured, in order to prevent their communicating among themselves.
A religious leader from the city of Mosul, Ghanim Dhannun, described the treatment he received from the American interrogators as "harsh and inhuman." He said, "They have no respect for a man of religion or a learned religious scholar or for a person of great age." Ghanim Dhannun said that he spent most of his time incarcerated in the prison at the Port of Umm Qasr in the city of al-Basrah, in the south of Iraq. He said that he was subjected to humiliation and long interrogation sessions that no person could stand.
As to the charges against him, Ghanim Dhannun said that most of the prisoners are charged with cooperating with the Iraqi Resistance. He said, however, that he was not working with the Resistance and had no connection with any attacks on the American occupation forces.
He said that he saw dozens of Iraqi officials shackled in iron chains and held in solitary confinement cells, but he declined to name any of them.
He concluded by saying that the US practice of making the release of prisoners contingent upon their pledging not to oppose the occupation and upon getting some well-known person in their home area to agree to be responsible for them is a dangerous precedent that is not justified by law or the principles of human rights.
Student Haytham 'Abdallah, who spent months in Abu Ghurayb prison camp described the conditions of his imprisonment and those of the others in the camp as "tragic, unbearable, and in violation of all humanitarian provisions."
He said: "My case basically is that I happened to be passing by a particular street in the al-Jihad neighborhood of Baghdad at a time when an American column came under attack. I suddenly found myself surrounded by soldiers. They asked, 'Where are the rest of your group?'. Despite my denials and calls for help, they took me to a jail after blindfolding me and tying my hands." He said that he was beaten and kicked and denied food and water for two consecutive days.
He described clashes that took place between the detainees in Abu Ghurayb prison camp and the guards. "They broke out because of the bad treatment and because the prison authorities refused to allow any contact between the prisoners and their families. In addition there was the factor of prison conditions – the food, the place, and the bad treatment."
Haytham 'Abdallah said that the prison authorities reacted harshly to the protesters. First they opened fire into the air and then they wounded many of them. He thought it probable that a number of the wounded prisoners had subsequently died of their wounds.
Sources: al-Arab al-Yawm daily newspaper, Amman, Jordan, Tuesday 27 January 2004.
Tuesday, 27 January 2004.
Al-Jazeera TV's correspondent in Baghdad has reported that during Monday-Tuesday night massive explosions were heard in the Iraqi capital as sirens wailed in the so-called Green Zone – compound housing the Iraqi Republican Palace which the American occupation forces have taken over and turned into their headquarters. Initially there was no information regarding the nature of the explosions what, if any, casualties and damage they might have left in their wake. It was later reported that a rocket had landed in the so-called Green Zone, but the occupation forces gave no information regarding losses or damage.
Three US aggressor troops were killed and one other was wounded when the Iraqi Resistance set off a large explosion west of Baghdad Tuesday as a convoy, including the Humvee which took the brunt of the blast, was passing. The troops were later specifically acknowledged to be paratroopers belonging to the US 82nd Airborne Division. Hospital staff said two Iraqi civilians also were killed. The US military occupation reported the US casualties, but refused to admit that the incident was a Resistance attack. A US military spokesman said only that the casualties occurred in "a large explosion" but claimed he "had no idea" what caused the blast. Earlier, however, the occupation spokesmen had been more willing to acknowledge that the incident was a Resistance attack. The Associated Press quoted an occupation spokesman as saying earlier, "one of our units was ambushed near Fallujah . . . involving two coalition vehicles."
The invader spokesman said three occupation soldiers were killed and one solider was injured. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the spokesman said he had no other details.
Witnesses, however, spoke of two roadside bombs in al-Khalidiyah, 50 miles west of Baghdad, and close to Fallujah town. The area is a hotspot of Resistance activity where several attacks have taken place against US aggressor forces. The witnesses said the first one exploded next to a passing US occupation military convoy followed by a second blast when reinforcements arrived.
'Abd al-Hamid Marzuq, a male nurse at a nearby hospital where the casualties were taken, said two Iraqis were killed -- Hadi Abed Shehab, the director of agriculture of al-Khalidiyah, and Hamd Nayef, a taxi driver. Marzuq said that Shehab died of a gunshot wound to the stomach. Witnesses said he was shot while standing in his office close the blast scene, and died on way to the hospital. Nayef, who was driving by at the time of the explosion, was injured in the head and face, said Marzuq. He said three other people were injured. It was likely that he and the other injured Iraqis were victims of the indiscriminate US gunfire that followed the Resistance attack.
'Ali Muhammad, 41, a resident of al-Khalidiyah said that an explosion went off as the American occupation convoy passed on the road to al-Khalidiyah, damaging a Humvee and wounding three occupation troops. He said, "the convoy stopped, the soldiers got out of the vehicles and began firing killing an Iraqi and wounding another."
Namir Muhammad, who said he was standing about 500 meters away when the attack occurred, reported that the American occupation soldiers fired randomly after the blasts, a standard response of the US occupation troops whenever they come under attack.
Muhammad described seeing a US military occupation vehicle on fire after the first blast.
As more American invader forces came to the scene, another bomb went off, setting fire to a second vehicle, he said. Muhammad said he carried several injured people to the hospital.
Later on Tuesday, an Iraqi Resistance roadside bomb exploded at about 8:00pm near Iskandariyah, about 25 miles south of Baghdad killed three US occupation soldiers and wounded three others, a US military statement said.
In addition, two employees of the US company Cable News Network (CNN), a driver and a translator-producer, died in an Iraqi Resistance attack south of Baghdad. They were returning from an assignment in a two-car convoy, CNN reported, when their convoy came under Resistance gunfire. CNN identified the men as translator-producer Duraid 'Isa Muhammad and driver Yaser al-Khatib. CNN said cameraman Scott McWhinnie, in the second car, was grazed in the head by a bullet. Correspondent Michael Holmes and several other people in that car were unhurt.
When the attack occurred, the two CNN vehicles were heading north towards the suburb of al-Mahmudiyah outside Baghdad. A colored Opal began to follow the CNN convoy and one of the occupants of the Opal opened fire with an automatic rifle at the back of the first car in the CNN convoy. Five shots hit the vehicle, but it was able to escape after the security officer in the convoy returned fire at the Opal.
A source in the puppet police in the region of Hadithah told Agence France Presse (AFP) that two Iraqis were killed and a third wounded in a Resistance attack on the Hadithah puppet police station which the officials say was an attempt to free one of the prisoners held there. Puppet police officer Sarmad La'iq of Hadithah said that "after noon on Tuesday a group of four armed men attacked the puppet police station of Hadithah region with the aim of forcibly releasing a prisoner." In the course of the machinegun battle, one attacker, by the name of 'Awwad Ibrahim, died and one other was wounded, while puppet policeman Falah Hasan Harrat, son of Hadithah police chief Lieutenant Colonel Hasan Harrat was also killed. Sarmad La'iq went on to say that "the American [occupation] forces arrived on the scene after the incident and sealed off the site and surrounding areas and began to investigate the incident as US occupation helicopters could be seen hovering near the puppet police headquarters.
US occupation troops killed three people whom they described as suspected members of a Resistance guerrilla cell during raids Tuesday in the central Iraqi town of Bayji, the occupation Army said.
The US occupation forces announced that they had discovered what they called "a suspected car bomb" near the central offices of the occupation and its puppet so-called Interim Governing Council.
In Kirkuk Colonel Anwar 'Abd al-Qader, head of the puppet police in the Dumiz neighborhood of the city, told AFP that US occupation forces arrested more than 11 Iraqis in the city, suspecting them of being behind Resistance attacks on the occupation forces, their puppet police stooges, and oil facilities. 'Abd al-Qader said that the US occupation forces sealed off the Dumiz residential neighborhood in the eastern part of Kirkuk and arrested 11 Iraqis. 'Abd al-Qader said that in their arrests, the invaders "relied on lists of names that they had, names of those persons whom they suspect of supporting operations targeting Iraqi [puppet] police patrols, the security of oil facilities in Kirkuk, and the American occupation forces who have been subjected to a series of attacks in recent days, particularly at their main headquarters at the Kirkuk airport."
'Abd al-Qader said that the "raids and searches covered most parts of the residential neighborhood. The roads in and out were cut. No one was allowed in or out of the neighborhood until the operation was finished."
Sources: al-Arab al-Yawm daily newspaper, Amman, Jordan, Wednesday, 28 January 2004.
Wednesday, 28 January 2004.
A martyrdom attack with an explosives laden vehicle against a hotel in central Baghdad on Wednesday killed five Iraqis in addition to the martyrdom of the driver, according to updated reports from a military occupation source.
An American military occupation spokesman said "five Iraqis were killed in addition to the driver," and reported that the vehicle was carrying "between 200 and 350kg of explosives."
In Wednesday's attack, an Iraqi Resistance martyrdom bomber driving a van disguised as an ambulance blew up his vehicle Wednesday in front of a hotel frequented by Westerners, witnesses and puppet police said. Initially the Iraqi puppet police reported four people were killed, but the US military occupation command at first insisted that only the driver died. The blast at the Shahin Hotel also injured 17 people, according to hospital officials. US occupation officials said the injured included one South African; hotel employees said initially he had been killed.
Islammemo quoted the BBC correspondent in Baghdad as saying that he had personally seen the body of a dead foreigner in addition to the corpses of three Iraqi puppet policemen, contrary to US military claims that only Iraqis were killed.
The bombing attack occurred about 6:40am after security guards opened fire on the vehicle — a white van with Red Crescent markings — as it maneuvered around concrete barriers in the street, witnesses said. The explosion gouged a huge crater in the street, shattered the ground floor of the three-story hotel and damaged at least three other buildings nearby. At least 10 cars parked along the street were severely damaged, some reduced to mounds of twisted metal. The blast hurled remains of one car across the street, and other cars were set afire.
Residents of the hotel include the so-called "labor minister" in the American-run puppet "government", Sami 'Izara al-Ma'jun, who was unhurt. "My guards came to the room and rushed me downstairs. The hotel was burning and there was fire and smoke everywhere," al-Ma'jun said. He said some foreigners were staying in the hotel but he didn't know their nationalities or profession, and that he saw injured people including one foreigner being led out of hotel during the chaos.
The hotel is located in the Karradah neighborhood which includes several foreign embassies — including the Swiss, Polish and Armenian — and the main station of the security force protecting diplomatic missions. "If you see my house, you wouldn't be able to recognize it," said Sonya Tatyosian, who lives across the street from the hotel. Still dressed in her pajamas, she stood weeping on the street as she used a friend's satellite phone to call her brother in California. "I am OK," she sobbed. "Just didn't want you to worry."
A part of the Shahin hotel's concrete front was torn away by the blast, and the walls that remained were blackened. Several fire trucks tried to douse the fire in the building. He said the hotel was packed with guests at the time of the blast, and expected several casualties.
At least three burned out cars were seen in front of the Shahin hotel, only their metal skeletons remaining. Another car was half burned a little distance away on the Masbah street in the upscale Karradah district. What looked like pieces of flesh lay on the ground in front of the hotel. Karradah puppet police chief Kazem Khalas initially said three people were killed and four injured in the blast, which occurred at about 6:30 a.m.
A spokesman at the US occupation command in Baghdad, however, said one Iraqi was killed and several injured. The spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to speculate why the hotel was targeted, but confirmed it was a car bomb.
Parts of the hotel's concrete walls were torn away, leaving gaping holes and destroying the interior. The walls that remained were blackened. Two other buildings nearby were badly damaged, one housing puppet policemen assigned to protect embassies in the area, and the other a company that sells fire extinguishers. It was not known if any puppet policemen were injured although white smoke was wafting out of the puppet police building three hours after the blast.
"Everything in our office is destroyed. Nothing is in one piece. Only the concrete is still standing," said Ma'in Muhammad, a partner in the fire extinguisher company who was sleeping in the building and was woken up by the blast.
Khalas, the puppet police official, said one of the destroyed cars was rigged with explosives, but didn't know if it was parked or moving at the time of the blast.
"We were woken up by a very strong explosion. The glass fell on us. My wife cut a leg," said Ahmad Hilli, who lives in a street parallel to the hotel. The hotel is close to the former US embassy, the Belarus embassy and a puppet police station.
In other news on Wednesday, in al-Khaws Province 75km south of Kirkuk, Iraqi Resistance fighters opened fire on a puppet police check point killing one puppet policeman. Eye witnesses said that the attackers fired from a car moving at high speed during the attack.
Puppet police in Kirkuk report that they were able to disarm two Katyusha rockets that had been targeted on the US occupation headquarters in the city and were ready for launch. The Qatari news agency Qana reported that a member of a puppet police patrol in Kirkuk said that the two rockets were set up in an area of the al-'Urubah neighborhood in the south of Kirkuk and were targeted on the airport, the location being used by local US occupation forces as their headquarters in the city.
Sources: al-Arab al-Yawm daily newspaper, Amman, Jordan, Thursday, 29 January 2004.