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Stop the Madness - Another bombing of Aid workers

10/27/2003

Today the madness of suicide attacks struck at Iraqi workers of the International Red Cross. Not long ago, Palestinian dissident factions attacked a convoy of US aid workers in Gaza, apparently at the instigation of forces hostile to the PNA. The attack was really directed at embarrassing the Palestinian Authority as much as against the USA. Not long before that, a bomb blew up a Shi'a holy man and killed many other Muslims as they were leaving a Mosque after Friday prayers in Iraq. A Zionist extremist group plotted to blow up a Palestinian girls school. Suicide bombings and terror attacks in Israel have killed hundreds of children - Arab children, Jewish children and Muslim children. Children too young to speak. Children killed while they were eating, leaving half-finished bottles of formula. What kind of madmen do these things? What kind of people support such acts, and in the name of what causes?

It seems that everyone is now a "legitimate" target and there is always some excuse. The madness is aimed at just about everyone, and if we don't stop it, we might be next.

Oct 27, 9:27 AM EST
http://customwire.ap.org/dynamic/stories/I/IRAQ?SITE=PAPIT&SECTION=HOME
Baghdad Car Bomb Attacks Kill at Least 34
By CHARLES J. HANLEY
AP Special Correspondent

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Car bombers struck the international Red Cross headquarters and three police
stations across Baghdad on Monday, killing about 40 people and wounding more than 200 in a spree of
destruction that terrorized the Iraqi capital on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The string of bombings, all within less than an hour, was the bloodiest attack yet in the city of 5
million by insurgents targeting the American-led occupation and those perceived as working with it.
It also appeared like a dramatic escalation in tactics - in past weeks, bombers have carried out
heavy suicide bombings, but in single strikes.

President Bush said U.S. progress in Iraq is making insurgents more "desperate" and fueling attacks.

One American soldier was killed in one of the police station attacks and six U.S. troops were
wounded, the military said. Iraqi police Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim, the deputy interior minister, put
the Iraqi death toll at 34, including 26 civilians and eight police but not the suicide bombers.

The bombings came hours after clashes in the Baghdad area killed three U.S. soldiers overnight, and
a day after insurgents hit a hotel full of U.S. occupation officials with a barrage of rockets,
killing a U.S. colonel and wounding 18 other people. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
was in the hotel, but was unhurt.

"We feel helpless when see this," a distraught Iraqi doctor said at the devastated Red Cross
offices. The Red Cross said 12 Iraqis were killed at its office, including two of its own employees.

Baghdad's al Baya'a police station in the al-Doura neighborhood saw the most deaths, reportedly 15
including the American. At a fourth station in central Baghdad, officers stopped a suicide bomber
before he could detonate his Land Cruiser. "He was shouting, `Death to the Iraqi police! You're
collaborators!'" said police Sgt. Ahmed Abdel Sattar.

Ibrahim said the captured bomber was Syrian and blamed foreign fighters for the assault.
"Iraq is safeguarding freedom and no one will take that away from us ... Some countries,
unfortunately, are trying to send people to do attacks," he told reporters.

In Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, witnesses said U.S. troops opened fire, killing at least four
Iraqi civilians, after a roadside bomb exploded as a U.S. military convoy passed. The U.S. command
did not immediately confirm the incident or any U.S. casualties.

At the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in central Baghdad, witnesses said a
suicide bomber drove an explosives-packed vehicle, apparently an ambulance, right up to security
barriers outside the building at about 8:30 a.m. The vehcile detonated, blowing down the Red Cross's
front wall, devastating the interior and blowing shrapnel and debris over a wide area.

Then, in quick succession, explosions went off at the al-Baya'a, al-Shaab and al-Khadra police
stations. Ambulances, sirens wailing, crisscrossed the city all morning.

"From what our indications are, none of those bombers got close to the target," U.S. Brig. Gen. Mark
Hertling said. But the explosions outside police stations left streetscapes of broken, bloody bodies
and twisted, burning automobiles.

Hertling said he believed the attacks may have been timed with the start of Ramadan in order to
heighten tensions during the fasting month, when Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight
hours and religious feelings run high.

Near the three-story ICRC building, cigarette vendor Ghani Khadim, 50, said he saw an Iraqi
ambulance pass by his stand and approach the small compound some 100 yards away. It suddenly
exploded, he said, and the blast blew out windows and injured his wife and daughter in his house
behind his stand.

The vehicle had stopped some 60 feet in front of the Red Cross headquarters, "at a line of barrels
we have had in front to protect the building," one Red Cross employee, who would not give his name.

The blast blew down a 40-foot section of the ICRC front wall, demolished a dozen cars in the area
and apparently broke a water main, flooding the streets. The inside of the building was heavily
damaged, littered with shattered glass, doors blown off their hinges, toppled bookcases and
collapsed ceilings. A gaping crack had opened in a back wall, some 100 yards from the blast site,
where a crater some five yards across quickly filled with water.

The Red Cross staff member said someone began firing off an automatic weapon immediately after the
explosion - "100 bullets or more." He said he believed it was a gunmen somehow associated with the
bomber "who wanted to scare people more."

Red Cross spokeswoman Nada Doumani said more than 100 workers would normally be at ICRC after 9
a.m., but staffers said only about one-quarter that number were present at 8:30 a.m.

"Of course we don't understand why somebody would attack the Red Cross," she said. "The Red Cross
has operated in this country since 1980, and we have not been involved in politics."

In Geneva, Red Cross spokesman Florian Westphal said the ICRC had disclosed in August that it had
received warnings of a threat and added that it had been cutting back on its staff since a Sri
Lankan staffer was killed July 22 south of Baghdad.

"Such an attack is a major blow for us," Westphal said. "It's a big shock. It is obviously
impossible to move onto a normal day's business, so we really have to step back and take stock."

Two buildings away, the explosion devastated the interior of the Al-Nawal private polyclinic
operated by Dr. Jamal F. Massa, 53, who had been planning to open it as a full-fledged hospital next
month.

"We feel helpless when we see this," he said. He said he couldn't understand why the Red Cross would
be attacked. "This only hurts guards and other Iraqis."

The Red Cross and other international aid organizations had reduced their Baghdad staffs after the
car bombing of U.N. headquarters in Baghdad on Aug. 19, in which 23 people died in what appeared to
be a warning against international support for the U.S. occupation.

Mouwafak al-Rabii, a Shiite Muslim member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, said the
United States must speed up the training of Iraqi police and soldiers and employ ruthless measures
to crush the insurgency.

"There is no doubt about it that we need to change the rules of engagement with these people,"
al-Rabii told CNN. "The rules of engagement now are too lenient."

The rocket attack Sunday struck the Al-Rasheed Hotel, where Wolfowitz was staying at the end of a
three-day Iraq visit. The deputy defense secretary said afterward that attack "will not deter us
from completing our mission" in Iraq.

But the bold blow at the heart of the U.S. presence here clearly rattled U.S. confidence that it is
defeating Iraq's shadowy insurgents.

"We'll have to get the security situation under control," Secretary of State Colin Powell told NBC's
"Meet the Press."
---
Eds: Associated Press reporters Lourdes Navarro and Sabah Jerges contributed to this report.

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