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Apr 10th, 2009

March 28, 2016 Update: Bloody Easter in Pakistan

In Pakistan, Taliban’s Easter Bombing Targets, Kills Scores of Christians

A woman injured in the bomb blast is comforted by a family member at a local hospital in Lahore on March 27, 2016. (Photo credit: K.M. Chuadary / AP via CNN)

By Sophia Saifi

March 28, 2016

Islamabad, Pakistan — On Easter Sunday, a crisp spring day, some of the city’s Christian population mingled with their Muslim neighbors, celebrating in a neighborhood park — taking their kids on rides or pushing them on swings. Then, the sound of tragedy.

Without warning, a blast tore through the park, killing indiscriminately.

Because of the innocent setting, an unusually high number of those injured were women and children. But the attack, claimed by a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, intentionally targeted Christians, the perpetrators say.

The suicide blast, in the eastern Pakistan city of Lahore, killed at least 69 people, a local government spokesman told CNN.

More than 341 others were injured, according to Punjab government spokesperson Jehangir Awan.

It comes at a difficult time for Pakistan’s Christians, some of whom were in the city’s Gulshan Iqbal Park to celebrate the holiday Sunday evening, only to see their Easter Sunday fragment into terror and chaos.

The religious group makes up only 2% of the population, and tensions are high between them and a hardline Muslim core which wants to see a strict interpretation of Islamic law take precedence in Pakistan’s legal system. …

Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban known as Jamat-ul-Ahrar vowed such attacks would continue. …

History of violence

In March last year, suicide bombers attacked a Christian community, also in Lahore, setting off two blasts that killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens more, officials said.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack too and warned of more to come.

The explosions, which struck the Nishtar Colony area in the city of Lahore, wounded at least 78 people, Dr. Muhammed Saeed Sohbin, medical superintendent at Lahore General Hospital, said then.

In 2013, suicide bombers struck a church in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing more than 80 people.

Full report


U.S. Suffers Deadliest Attack in Iraq in a Year

Suicide bomber kills 5 American soldiers and 2 Iraqi policemen


Suicide bombing kills 7 in Mosul (NBC Nightly News, April 10, 2009) — In the deadliest attack on U.S. troops in 13 months, a massive truck bomb slammed into police headquarters on Friday, April 9. NBC’s Richard Engel reports that five U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi policemen were killed in al-Qaida’s last urban stronghold. (01:29)

April 10, 2009

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden truck into a sandbagged wall surrounding a police headquarters in northern Iraq on Friday, killing five American soldiers and two Iraqi policemen in the single deadliest attack against U.S. forces in more than a year, the U.S. military and Iraqi police said.

A sixth American soldier and 17 Iraqi policemen were wounded in the blast that took place near the national police headquarters in southwestern Mosul — Iraq’s third-largest city and al-Qaida’s last urban stronghold.

Suicide bombings — a hallmark of al-Qaida’s attack style — continue to threaten the city, which U.S. troops must leave by June 30 under an agreement with the Iraqis. The approaching deadline has raised fears about what will happen after American soldiers depart.

Lt. Col. Michael Stuart, chief of U.S. operations in Tikrit, an Iraqi city north of Baghdad, said the target was the Iraqi national police complex in Mosul and not the U.S. patrol. He said the American patrol just happened to be on the same street when the attack occurred. …

Friday’s blast was the deadliest single bombing attack in more than a year. The U.S. military said that the last time five U.S. soldiers were killed in an attack was when a suicide bomber targeted an American patrol in Baghdad on March 10, 2008.

A suicide car bomb struck a U.S. patrol in Mosul on Feb. 9, killing four American soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter. Four U.S. soldiers were also killed Jan. 26 when two helicopters collided over the northern city of Kirkuk.

Friday’s suicide bomber, who was driving a truck filled with grain, made a sharp turn as he approached the police complex, then rammed his truck through an iron barrier, hitting a sandbagged wall beyond it and detonating his vehicle near the station’s main building, Iraqi police said. The blast shook the entire complex and badly damaged nearby buildings, witnesses and police said.

‘The situation was chaotic’

A policeman, who identified himself as Abu Mohammed, said he saw the truck driving behind two U.S. Humvees on the street leading to the police headquarters. The Humvees entered the complex, came to a stop, and within seconds, the truck turned and rammed the iron barrier, he said.

Iraqi police opened fire, but the truck kept moving until it reached the sandbagged wall where it detonated — just a few feet away from the Humvees, he said. “The blast was very powerful and the situation was chaotic,” he said. …

Mosul, about 225 miles north of Baghdad, had been relatively quiet in recent weeks compared to the Iraqi capital, where attacks killed at least 53 people this week. …

Full report


Related report

Deadliest Attacks on U.S. Troops in Iraq Since 2008

April 10, 2009

Some of the deadliest attacks and combat-related air disasters suffered by U.S. troops in Iraq in 2008 and 2009:

  • April 10, 2009: A suicide bomber rams his explosives-laden truck into a sandbagged wall in Mosul, killing five American soldiers and two Iraqi policemen.
  • Feb. 9, 2009: A suicide car bomber strikes a U.S. patrol in Mosul, killing four American soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter.
  • Jan. 26, 2009: Enemy fire causes two U.S. Kiowa Warrior helicopters to collide, killing four American pilots.
  • May 2, 2008: Four Marines are killed by a roadside bomb in Anbar province.
  • March 24, 2008: Four U.S. troops are killed in Baghdad when their vehicle is struck by an improvised explosive device.
  • March 10, 2008: A suicide bomber kills five American soldiers on a foot patrol in central Baghdad.
  • Feb. 8, 2008: Four U.S. soldiers are killed when their vehicle strikes an improvised explosive device northwest of Baghdad.
  • Jan. 28, 2008: Five soldiers are killed when their unit is hit by an improvised explosive device during convoy operations in Mosul.
  • Jan. 9, 2008: Six soldiers are killed in a bombing during combat operations in Sinsil.

Full report


Shiites Rally on Anniversary of Fall of Baghdad

Six years after Saddam was toppled, protesters burn U.S. flags

Image: Moqtada Al-Sadr Supporters Rally Against US Presence In Iraq
Iraqi supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr burn an American flag during a protest on Thursday, April 9, 2009 to mark six years after the fall of Baghdad to U.S.-led forces. (Photo credit: Muhannad Fala’ah / Getty Images)

April 9, 2009

BAGHDAD — Tens of thousands of supporters of an anti-American cleric burned an effigy of ex-President George W. Bush on Thursday and demanded that U.S. troops leave Iraq in a rally marking the sixth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to U.S. forces.

Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Shiite militia fought U.S. troops intermittently until a cease-fire last May, had called on Iraqis to turn out for the protest at Firdous Square — where Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled on April 9, 2003.

Protesters set fire to American flags and to Bush’s effigy as it hung from the pillar where Saddam’s statue once stood.

Nevertheless, the tone of the speeches seemed less hostile toward America than those at rallies during the Bush presidency, when Sadrist speakers would not refer to the U.S. leader as president.

“We demand that President Obama stand with the Iraqi people by ending the occupation to fulfill his promises he made to the world,” al-Sadr aide Assad al-Nassiri told the crowd.

Salah al-Obeidi, spokesman for the movement, said the slight change in tone — including the reference to Barack Obama as president — represented an overture to the new administration. Obama ran for the presidency as a staunch critic of the 2003 invasion. …

No to occupation

At the rally, al-Nassiri read a statement from al-Sadr, who lives in Iran, describing the U.S. military presence as a “crime against all Iraqis.” Al-Sadr asked God to grant Iraqis a sovereign country “free from wicked occupation.”

Protesters waved Iraqi banners and carried pictures of al-Sadr, chanting: “No, no occupation” and “Long live al-Sadr!” Huge Iraqi flags decorating the square hung drenched from the heavy rain that pelted the city Thursday morning.

Al-Sadr had called for a “march of the millions” but it appeared the crowd numbered no more than 30,000. …

A new era?

Dozens of buses brought demonstrators from southern provinces where the Sadrists have a large number of supporters.

One of the protesters, Ammar Mahdi, 23, said he walked five miles to join the rally to demand the “immediate withdrawal of the U.S. soldiers who brought destruction to Iraq instead of freedom.”

The protest against the U.S. presence contrasted with the jubilation of six years ago, when crowds of Iraqis cheered as American Marines hauled down Saddam’s statue marking the collapse of his regime.

But the years of violence, bloodshed and political turmoil that followed soured many Iraqis on the U.S. role, even though there is public unease over the capability of Iraqi forces to maintain security once the Americans have gone.

“I am among those who were glad when the former regime fell. We chanted and cheered,” said Hashim Mohsen, a Baghdad schoolteacher who did not attend the rally. “We thought new loyal people were leading the country into a new, prosperous era. But regrettably, that is not what occurred.”

Full report


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Tuesday, April 10, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

MOSUL – The U.S. military said five U.S. soldiers were killed in a suicide truck bomb attack on Friday in Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad. The blast also killed two Iraqi policemen, a statement said.

MOSUL – A roadside bomb killed a woman and wounded her daughter in eastern Mosul, police said.

Following are security developments in Iraq on Tuesday, April 9, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

MOSUL – Gunmen on foot shot a man dead and fled the scene in western Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

MOSUL – A bomb attached to a car killed its driver in eastern Mosul on Wednesday, police said.

2 Responses to “Bloody ‘Good Friday’ in Iraq”
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