Car bombers struck the international Red Cross headquarters and four police stations across Baghdad yesterday, 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, according to police and Red Cross reports.
The Red Cross said 12 were killed at its offices, and police said 27 were killed in the police station bombings, most of them Iraqis. The US military said one American soldier was killed in one of the police station attacks.
The bombings came hours after clashes in the Baghdad area killed three US soldiers overnight, and a day after insurgents devastated a hotel full of US occupation officials with a rocket barrage, killing a US colonel and wounding 18 other people.
It was two days of violence unprecedented in this city of 5 million people since the end of the US-Iraq war last April -- attacks aimed at the American-led occupation and those perceived as working with it.
"We feel helpless when we see this," a distraught Iraqi doctor said at the devastated Red Cross offices.
Other Iraqis, meanwhile, were reported dying at the hands of Americans. In Fallujah, 65km west of Baghdad, witnesses said US troops opened fire indiscriminately, killing at least four Iraqi civilians, after a roadside bomb exploded as a US military convoy passed. The US command did not immediately confirm the incident or any US casualties.
At the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 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 8:30am and detonated it, blowing down the Red Cross' front wall, devastating the interior and blowing shrapnel and debris over a wide area.
The ICRC said at its headquarters in Geneva that 12 people were killed, including two of its Iraqi employees. Baghdad ICRC spokeswoman Nada Doumani said she believed the employees were security guards.
Then, through the morning, four other vehicles exploded at police stations in the Baghdad area. Ambulances, sirens wailing, crisscrossed the city all morning.
"From what our indications are, none of those bombers got close to the target," Hertling said. But the explosions outside police stations left streetscapes of broken, bloody bodies and twisted, burning automobiles. Iraqi police reported some 27 people killed in those attacks, including 15 Iraqis at the ad-Doura station in southern Baghdad.
One US soldier was among them, and other Americans were wounded, said Lieutenant Sarmad al-Hakim, an ad-Doura officer. The US command confirmed one soldier died but did not mention any wounded. Teams of US military police have been stationed at Baghdad police stations in recent months.
At a fifth police 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 Sergeant Ahmed Abdel Sattar.
Hertling said he believed the attacks may have been timed to coincide 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.
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
CONSOLIDATION? Taiwan Thinktank deputy executive-general Doong Sy-chi said Beijing’s intimidation tactics are further alienating those who identify as Chinese Only 2 percent of respondents to a poll on constitutional amendments and national identity identified as Chinese, while 62.6 percent identified as Taiwanese, the Taiwan Thinktank said yesterday. Legislators have proposed amendments to the Additional Articles of the Constitution (憲法增修條文), which would change the definition of the nation’s territory, remove the Taiwan Provincial Government as an entity, prioritize the use of “Taiwan” for national groups at international events, and remove restrictions on defining the national emblem, national flag and national anthem. The poll showed that 80.5 percent of respondents agreed that the nation should participate as “Taiwan” at events organized by world
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a