Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Iraqi celebrations of US departure turn into a real blast

Iraqis partied to celebrate the departure of American troops from Iraqi cities, but the terrorists had a different sort of blast in mind - the kind made by car bombs.  We could see this coming of course, but nobody wanted to think about it or take the precautions needed to save lives.
At least 25 people have been killed by a car bomb at a market in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, officials say.
The attack came as Iraqis celebrated the withdrawal of US troops from towns and cities in Iraq, six years after the invasion.
Iraqi and US troops have been on alert for attacks during the pullback, which was declared a national holiday.
Ten days ago more than 70 people were killed in a truck bombing in Kirkuk - the deadliest attack in over a year.
Police Brig Gen Sarhat Qadir told the Associated Press news agency at least 40 people had been wounded in the latest blast, caused by an explosives-laden vehicle parked near the crowded market.
Volatile mix
Kirkuk, about 250km (155 miles) from Baghdad, was also the scene of two suicide bombings last month, in which 14 people were killed.
The city is the centre of northern Iraq's oil industry, and home to a volatile mix of Kurds, Arabs, Christians and members of the Turkmen community.

Sunni insurgents and groups including al-Qaeda remain active in the area despite security improvements in other parts of the country, correspondents say.
Both American and Iraqi commanders have warned they expect al-Qaeda in Iraq and other groups to attempt to re-ignite sectarian tensions.
Despite their pullback from cities and towns, US troops will still be embedded with Iraqi forces.
Hours before the Monday night deadline for the withdrawal, four US soldiers were killed in combat in Baghdad.
US commanders have said security and stability is improving, and that Iraqi forces are now ready to take over security operations.
Iraqi soldiers paraded through Baghdad's streets on Monday in vehicles decorated with flowers and Iraqi flags, while patriotic songs were played through loudspeakers at checkpoints.
The pullback comes two years after the US "surge" of extra troops between February and June 2007, which saw US troop levels in Iraq reach about 170,000.
US-led combat operations are due to end by September 2010, with all troops gone from Iraq by the end of 2011.
Some 131,000 US troops remain in Iraq, including 12 combat brigades, and the total is not expected to drop below 128,000 until after the Iraqi national election in January.

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