Monday, September 21, 2009

A relatively peaceful Ramadhan & Eid in Iraq

On Sept 18: 'A car bomb attack has hit the town of Mahmudiyah just outside the Iraqi capital, killing seven people and leaving another 21 wounded.

The explosion occurred at around 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) in a popular market crowded by people who were shopping for food to break the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The town of Mahmudiya, 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Baghdad, is located within the so-called 'Triangle of Death' where sectarian tensions hiked in 2006 and 2007 in the worst such violence in the aftermath of Iraq's occupation by the US and its allies in 2003.

Earlier in September, two roadside bombs there killed at least two people and wounded 10 others.

Evening gatherings in Ramadan have been a frequent target of terrorist cells associated with al-Qaeda in the past, but Iraq has seen a fall in bombing casualties this month.'

For those who don't remember, Mahmudiya is the town south of Baghdad where in 2006 drunk US soldiers murdered an Iraqi girl's family and then raped and murdered her.

Violent crime continues, often unreported:

'As the worst of the country's sectarian bloodshed ebbs, Iraqis now face a new threat to getting on with their lives: a frenzy of violent crime.

Many of those involved are believed to be battle-experienced former insurgents unable to find legitimate work. They often bring the same brutality to their crimes that they showed in the fighting that nearly pushed the country into a Sunni-Shiite civil war in 2006 and 2007.

The result has been a wave of thefts and armed robberies, hitting homes, cars, jewelry stores, currency exchanges, pawn shops and banks.

Kidnapping, too, remains terrifyingly common, as it was during the peak of the insurgency. Now, however, the targets are increasingly children, and the kidnappers, rather than having sectarian motives, are seeking ransoms.

In southern Baghdad's Saydiyah neighborhood, photos of missing children are pasted on electricity poles and the concrete blast walls that enclose many areas of the bomb-battered capital.

There are few statistics tracking the number and kinds of crimes, in part because the government remains focused on the bombings and other insurgent attacks that continue to plague Baghdad and Iraq's north.

But in the minds of the public, crime has become at least as consuming as the violence directly related to the war. And like the lack of electricity and other services, crime is now a top complaint of Iraqis.'

Iraqis are looking forward to TRULY peaceful, relative to the peacefulness of the era before Saddam became Iraqi President.

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