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The Week in Iraq is a weekly assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties by IBC's news collector and Recent Events editor Lily Hamourtziadou.

The analyses and opinions presented in these commentaries are personal to the author.

Recent weeks

Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008


The Week in Iraq

The greatest attack

by Lily Hamourtziadou

4 Feb 2007

It was the worst single attack since the 2003 invasion: 137 people died in a Baghdad market, when a suicide bomber blew up his truck. The attack on Saturday 3 February, 40 days after the execution of Saddam Hussein, left a crater 15 feet long, 10 feet wide and 5 feet deep in the middle of the market. It was one of the deadliest bombings, as these attacks become more and more frequent.

In 2003 there was only one attack that killed over 50 civilians:
-29 August, 83 killed in Najaf.

In 2004 there were seven:
-February 1, 109 killed in Arbil
-February 10, 53 killed in Iskandariya
-March 2, 67 killed in Baghdad
and 121 in Karbala
-July 28, 70 killed in Baquba
-November 9, 59 killed in Falluja
-December 19, 52 killed in Najaf

In 2005 there were seven:
-February 28, 125 killed in Hilla
-March 10, 51 killed in Mosul
-May 4, 60 killed in Arbil
-July 16, 98 killed in Mussayib
-September 14, 114 killed in Baghdad
-September 29, 98 killed in Balad
-November 18, 74 killed in Khanaqin

In 2006 there were twelve:
-January 5, 60 killed in Karbala
80 killed in Ramadi
-March 12, 58 killed in Baghdad
-April 7, 90 killed in Baghdad
-July 1, 62 killed in Sadr City, Baghdad
-July 17, 72 killed in Mahmudiya
-July 18, 58 killed in Kufa
-August 13, 76 killed in Baghdad
-August 31, 67 killed in Baghdad
-November 23, 215 killed in Sadr City, Baghdad, by six bombs.
-December 2, 61 killed in Baghdad
-December 12, 76 killed in Baghdad

In 2007, just over a month into the year, there have been four already:
-January 16, 70 killed at Mustansiriya University, Baghdad
-January 22, 88 killed in Baghdad
-February 1, 73 killed in Hilla
-February 3, 137 killed in Baghdad

The attacks are increasing, together with the dead, despite the added security provided by the Iraqi authorities and the US army. During the past week nearly 900 civilians were reported killed in violent attacks.

On Monday 29 January around 120 die, including a man, his wife and 4 daughters shot dead by gunmen in their home in Baghdad. A child is shot dead while watching a football match north of Baquba, another child dies in an attack on a Baghdad neighbourhood that kills 16, a grenade attack kills 5 worshippers in a mosque, while 43 bodies are found tortured in Baghdad.

On Tuesday 30 January around 110 die. In Baghdad over 20 people are killed by mortars and a dozen more by gunmen, while 15 pilgrims are killed in Khanaqin and 15 more in Baquba. A suicide bomber blows himself up at a mosque in Balad Ruz, killing 25 worshippers.

On Wednesday 31 January the 70 dead include 3 university professors and a student, kidnapped a few days earlier, whose dead bodies are found in Baghdad. About 40 more die in Baghdad, 10 of them shot dead as they walk down the street.
Overall, civilian deaths exceeded 2,800 in January.

Civilian deaths reach a staggering 230 on February 1, as suicide bombers blow up 73 people at a market in Hilla. This is not, however, the most shocking attack of the day, as there are reports of the complete destruction of a village south of Baghdad. According to one report, during a fierce battle, the village of al-Samra, comes under attack by insurgents, joint Iraqi and US forces, by land and by air, resulting in its complete destruction and the deaths of 70 villagers (another report puts the death toll at 150). The assault lasts the whole day. The residents of the village die in the attacks, or in a nearby river trying to escape, or are killed execution-style.

Friday 2 February is relatively peaceful, as there are only 52 civilian deaths reported.

It is, however, followed by a bloody weekend. On Saturday 3 February the greatest single attack kills 137 in a Baghdad market, on a day that the dead almost reach 200.

On Sunday 4 February over 100 die, nearly all of them in Baghdad. Among the dead a woman killed with her children by mortars.

Meanwhile, last Sunday’s ‘pre-emptive strike’(a US favourite) on a religious group near Najaf by joint Iraqi and US forces, in which over 260 were killed, comes into question. It was at first claimed that the group was attacked as they planned to kill pilgrims in Najaf, on the Day of Ashura. The timely US and Iraqi intervention thwarted their plot. Yet according to other reports the group lived in a village, with a mosque, and was peaceful. It may have all started at a checkpoint, where confrontations erupted between security and members of the religious procession, which escalated. Following the killings and mass arrests of men, women and children, a free lance journalist Munjid al-Tamimi is killed after taking photos of the dead bodies in the hospital.

We may never know what those people did wrong, or if they did any wrong at all, just as we may never know exactly what happened in al-Samra. What we do know, however, is that too many are dying for a cause that is at best unclear, and almost certainly unjust.