The NY Times reports At least 95 people are killed in series of bomb attacks in central Baghdad around official buildings that also left 563 people wounded. “Taken together, the attacks were among the most devastating in Baghdad since the withdrawal of American forces from street patrols at the end of June.” The death toll is expected to rise.
“The blasts were so intense that parts of a main highway near the Finance Ministry collapsed and were littered with shrapnel and splotches of blood. At roughly the same time, attacks in other parts of the city, including three roadside bombs and some mortar and rocket fire, left 17 people wounded, Iraqi officials said. In response to the chaos, the police and the Iraqi Army closed two main bridges over the Tigris River.”
McClatchy adds this was Baghdad’s deadliest day in 18 months. Not since February 2008, has a day been this deadly in Baghdad. Some in the city fear violence will return as the government removes the blast walls and open roads that have been closed by the intense days of sectarian fighting from 2005 to 2008.
“It is brother killing brother, son killing father,” said Katheema Hanoon, who owned a street vending booth next to the Foreign Ministry where she sold snacks and water. She was buried under her goods and shelves after the bombing. A taxi driver helped her out, and she felt fine an hour after the explosion.
Of today’s attacks, the LA Times reports Bombs target ministries. “The main targets were the Finance and Foreign ministries, which were shaken by massive explosions minutes apart, demonstrating that the insurgency still has the capacity to strike at will against major institutions. In the first attack, a car bomb demolished a bridge beside the Finance Ministry.”
The CS Monitor wonders if this is the start of a Sunni backlash. A Pentagon report to Congress released in July, “Measuring Stability in Iraq“, “warned of increasing disputes between the Shiite-led government and Sunni groups” because the Bush surge did nothing to resolve the sectarian tensions. The Guardian has a Timeline of bombings in Iraq since US withdrawal from cities.
The LA Times reports Violence and death toll mount before Afghanistan elections. “Thousands of new U.S. troops arrived over the summer. Safeguarding the election was one of their primary missions. Despite their efforts, both troop deaths and civilian casualties have soared.”
In a separate article, the paper reports a Gang takes over a Kabul bank and a bomber strikes a military convoy.
In another burst of preelection violence, a suicide car bomber targeted a Western military convoy Tuesday in Afghanistan’s capital, killing at least 10 people, including a soldier with the NATO-led force and two Afghan employees of the United Nations.
More chaos broke out today, the eve of the presidential vote, when a gang of armed men took over a major bank in the heart of Kabul and got into a shootout with police. There was no immediate word on casualties.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks…
Elsewhere, “two U.S. soldiers died Tuesday in a roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan, bringing the number of American military deaths in the country this month to at least 26”.
Meanwhile Afghanistan Imposes Censorship on election day, reports the NY Times. Just two days before the presidential election, the Afghan government is “barring news organizations from reporting on election day violence.”
The National Security Council had made the decision “in view of the need to ensure the wide participation of the Afghan people in upcoming presidential and provincial council elections, and prevent any election-related terrorist violence,” the statement said.
The Guardian counters that Afghan journalists ignore ban on reporting election violence. “Afghan journalists have rejected a government order not to report attacks or violence on election day, saying the ban would stifle press freedoms that were supposed to have returned after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.” The Afghan government fears that reporting on the violence will “deter people from voting”.
Four at Four continues with Obama’s foreign drug victims, food speculators, and Exxon oil sabotage.