Monday, December 25, 2006


"In the back of your mind you think about it, but there are no holidays in Iraq." - Staff Sgt. Brandon Scott, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division


U.S. forces killed three insurgents on Sunday in northern Baghdad during a raid targeting foreign fighters and local insurgents who were building car bombs in the area.

A total of 29 bodies were found shot dead, with most showing signs of torture, in different districts of Baghdad on Sunday.

A car bomb killed at least 10 people and wounded 15 when it exploded on a busy commercial street in a mainly Shi'ite district of Baghdad.

A suicide bomber killed three people and wounded 20 others when he blew himself up aboard a crowded bus in the Shi'ite Talibiya district in northeastern Baghdad.


Gunmen killed two Shi'ite brothers on Sunday in the town of Hawija, 190 km north of Baghdad.

Jurf Al-Sakhar

Gunmen wounded three policemen when they attacked a police checkpoint on Sunday in Jurf al-Sakhar, about 85 km south of Baghdad.


Gunmen killed a police lieutenant colonel and wounded three other policemen in a drive-by shooting in the town of Mahaweel, 75 km south of Baghdad. An Interior Ministry source said two of the policemen with the officer also died in the attack.


A total of seven bodies, including three policemen, were found in different districts of Mosul.

In Mosul, a drive-by shooting on Sunday killed two policemen.


Gunmen killed one civilian after they stormed his house on Sunday night in Mussayab, 60 km south of Baghdad.


A suicide bomber targeting a police checkpoint near the main entrance of Anbar University killed three policemen and wounded two students in the city of Ramadi, police Lieutenant Kareem al-Rishawi said. The U.S. military said one student and one police man were killed, and five police wounded. The bomber was also killed. A U.S. statement said the reports of three policemen dead were a deliberate inflation of the casualties in an effort to intimidate the police and dissuade people from enlisting.

A suicide bomber blew up at an Iraqi army checkpoint south of Ramadi on Monday, and clashes then erupted between gunmen and soldiers, a police officer said on condition of anonymity. Mortars exploded in the area, he said.


Clashes between security forces and militiamen loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr killed six people and seriously wounded one on Sunday in the southern Iraqi town of Rumaitha, 25 km north of Samawa. Three days of clashes have killed at least eight people in the nearby city of Samawa.


A sniper shot and killed a police commando in Samarra, northwest of Baghdad.

In Country

Police found the handcuffed, tortured bodies of 38 men throughout the country on Sunday, more apparent victims of sectarian violence.

Police deaths: Some 12,000 Iraqi policemen have been killed since the ouster of Saddam Hussein , the country's interior minister said Sunday…

At a news conference in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said despite the thousands of police deaths "when we call for new recruits, they come by the hundreds and by the thousands."

…Police and police recruits have been frequent targets of insurgent attacks. In one of the worst single attacks, a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives near a line of national guard and police recruits waiting to take physicals in February 2005. The blast in Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, killed 125.

‘Renegade’ police: Backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, British troops conducted a raid in the city of Basra after receiving intelligence that a renegade group of Iraqi police might execute its prisoners at its station, the British military said. British troops have periodically conducted raids in an effort to root out corruption in the local police force, which has been infiltrated by Shiite militias.

Leaders of the police station's serious crimes unit were suspected of involvement with local death squads, and seven were apprehended three days ago in raids, said Lt. Jenny Saleh of the British Royal Navy in Basra.

"We had intelligence to indicate that the serious crimes unit would execute its prisoners in the coming days, so we decided to intervene," Saleh said without elaborating.

British troops were fired on as they approached the station and killed seven gunmen, said Maj. Charlie Burbridge, a British military spokesman.

British and Iraqi forces transferred all 76 prisoners at the police station to another detention facility in downtown Basra, he said. Once the station was evacuated, British forces destroyed it with explosives.

Christmas trees: Nouri Dawoud has one of the most dangerous jobs in Baghdad. He sells Christmas trees. For seven hours a day, he stands on the same street corner in a neighborhood where drive-by shootings and snipers are not uncommon. He caters to Christians, who are among the most targeted people in the city. On a good day, he attracts a crowd, a draw to any would-be suicide bomber. Dawoud has been selling trees at the same corner in Al-Karradah district every Christmas season for the past 10 years. At 77, he is not ready to abandon his spot. He may have no choice. Christmas was once a holiday that Christians and a few Muslims in Iraq enjoyed. Now, they fear celebrating it. These days in Baghdad, even buying a Christmas tree can lead to getting killed. "People now, they have a lot of things to worry about other than trees,'' Dawoud said.

Holiday mourning: Phyllis Broomfield barely sleeps these days and occasionally skips work, lost in a haze of anguish over the death of her son.

Second Lt. Johnny Craver was 37 when he died two months ago, killed in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated. He was supposed to be home for Christmas.

"I don't even want to have holidays this year," Broomfield said. "I don't know that I can. Every day since October 14, I just wonder how I am going to go on."

Broomfield's grief, enhanced by the holiday season, is a too-familiar pain for Lee Price, the director of Fort Hood's Casualty Assistance Center. At least 59 soldiers from Texas have died in Iraq in 2006, and at least 250 since the war began in March 2003. Nationally, nearly 3,000 soldiers have died in Iraq and more than 350 in Afghanistan.

For families dealing with the loss of a fallen soldier, "the holidays bring out the best and bring out the worst" of emotions, Price said. The warm feelings associated with the season often make people dealing with death and loss feel worse, leading many churches to hold somber Blue Christmas services to help those left behind.

Overworked: Arlington National Cemetery is quietly coping with the additional workload of providing a final resting place for the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Superintendent John Metzler Jr. says his staff has added early morning, midday or late-afternoon funerals to the daily schedule of more than two dozen funerals in order to accommodate services for GIs lost on distant battlefields.

Authorities have cleared the way for mourning families to spend more time at grave sites and to honor lost loved ones with special tributes outside the regimented practices of graveside military honors.

The personalized tributes have included bagpipers and graveside statements by comrades who were with the soldier when he or she died.

"Our goal is never to rush the family," Metzler says.

Of the more than 2,960 GIs killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003 and the 296 U.S. military personnel killed in the war to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion in 2001, the remains of 335 casualties lie in Arlington National Cemetery.

The 624-acre cemetery contains the remains of veterans from every major American conflict back to the Revolutionary War.

"We look for off-hours to squeeze the additional services into our normal workload," Metzler said in an interview in his office overlooking some of the 230,000 white headstones standing row-upon-row across rolling fields on a hill overlooking the nation's capital.


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