4 killed, 33 injured in Baghdad blast
* US Apache helicopter down in Iraq
* Iraqi PM says two years ‘more than enough’ to establish security
* Abu Ghraib being expanded
BAGHDAD: Four people were killed and around 33 were injured when a car bomb ripped through a crowded market in southeastern Baghdad Monday, said the Interior Ministry and medical sources.
The blast occurred in the Jadida district, a predominantly Shia area that hosts the multi-ethnic market, said an interior ministry source. Lilane Boutros (50) who was shopping with her daughter Nada said, “We came to buy clothes for my daughter who is getting married. I don’t understand why they attacked because there are Sunnis, Shias and Christians here.”
“I am sure it was not Iraqis but Arab combattants, surely Saudis,” said Akram Mohammed, “That is why the Shias don’t attack the Sunnis, they know they are not guilty.”
The carnage added to a growing death toll that included two US crewmen who crashed with their Apache attack helicopter northwest of the capital. A military statement said investigators were probing the cause. An interior ministry source said the aircraft slammed into the ground near Mishahda.
Violence persisted on the ground and a total of 11 deaths were reported. Five Iraqis were killed dead in two separate attacks, a drive-by shooting that killed two and a car bomb between the towns of Baiji and Kirkuk that left three dead. An Iraqi was killed and his wife wounded when two homemade bombs exploded as they drove past a Baghdad district council hall. An Iraqi policemen who died while out on patrol with Iraqi and US troops. Seven more Iraqis were wounded when a rocket crashed into a restaurant near a busy bus and taxi station.
In the face of the unrelenting violence, US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld confirmed tentative contacts with rebels, but warned the insurgency could go on for years. He warned the violence could drag on, but added that Washington would hand over the job of rounding up rebels to Iraqis. “That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years,” he said.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who met with Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Jaafari, said it was “perfectly sensible” for the United States and others to talk with some Iraqi insurgents to draw them into the political mainstream.
Jaafari said two years was ample time to establish security in Iraq, and urged neighbouring countries to control their borders to speed the process up. The timeframe, given after a meeting in London with Blair, was far shorter than an estimate of up to 12 years offered by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the weekend. He said, “Two years will be enough, and more than enough, to establish security in our country,” the Iraqi leader told a joint news conference with Blair.
Several Islamic militant groups denied having any contacts with US officials, including the Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sunna group, which was one of the insurgent groups said to have taken part by the London-based Sunday Times newspaper. In Egypt, former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi said, “The solution to tension in Iraq does not lie in purely military measures and imposed decisions. There must be a dialogue between various Iraqi factions and that is what is happening now.” West of Baghdad, the notorious US-run Abu Ghraib prison is being expanded from its current capacity of 3,537 detainees to more than 4,300, said a US military spokesman.
Former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz said that ousted president Saddam Hussein had personally ordered a 1991 Shia uprising be crushed without asking for the opinion of top aides, in interrogation footage released on Monday. “Who issued this order?” asked the judge of the Iraqi Special Tribunal created to try Saddam and senior aides. “The president himself,” answered Aziz. agencies