December 24 Events in Iraq
21:03 Baghdad. 12 dead and 15 wounded in Baghdad blast. An explosion occurred not far from the Jordanian and Libyan legations in the Mansour district of Baghdad. The explosion may have been by caused by a fuel truck. Witnesses say the headquarters of Ahmed Chelabi's Iraqi National Congress is also nearby. A fire is raging in the area.
19:02 Tikrit. Rumsfeld: US troop level to be raised to 150,000. Rumsfeld officially informs US troops in Iraqi of planned increase.
18:59 Baghdad. Christmas mass held early. Christmas Eve midnight mass began early, at 5:00 pm, in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in downtown Baghad. Police and Christain vigilantes provided security. Christians number 700,000 in Iraq which is 3 percent of the population.
17:23 Baghdad. Imams blame US for bombings in Najaf and Kerbala. Several Shi'ite imams have directly blamed ex-Ba'athist security operatives, the USA, the UK and Israel for the bombings in the holy cities of Najaf and Kerbala last Sunday. Among the accusers was extremist leader Moqtada Al Sadr.
15:41 Baghdad. Sunni imams demand postponement of elections. In Friday prayers, Sunni imams across Iraq demanded a postponement of the elections scheduled for 30 January, which they termed a sham. How are we supposed to go to the ballot box under the current conditions? So that truly free elections may be held, we should be free first. If the date is unchanged, the elections are going to be a sham., says Imam Ahmed Hassan al-Taha of Baghdad's Abu Hanifa Mosque.
15:22 Nassiriya. Italian Carabinieri and Red Cross deliver supplies and gifts to Nassiriya orphanage. The Carabinieri of the Multinational Specialized Unit and the staff of the 6th Hospital Surgery Team delivered bottled water, medicine and toys to the Al Ajias Nursery Orphanage of Nassiriya.
13:41 London. UK freezes funds. The UK has frozen the funds of a Saudi group suspected of aiding al Qaeda. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown instructed the Bank of England to freeze the funds and assetsof the Movement for the Reform of Islam in Arabia.
13:02 Washington Post: Powell informed Bush that there were insufficient US troop numbers in Iraq. The Washington Post reports that Colin Powell is responsible for the recent deployment of 12,000 additional troops to Iraq after having informed George Bush and Tondy Blair that the number of US troops in Iraq was insufficient.
12:52 Al Anbar. Three Marines killed. No details.
12:43 Baghdad. Three Iraqis killed in attacks north of capital. Three Iraqis including a tribal chieftain and a child, were killed and eleven civilians wounded in separate attacks north of Baghdad. Sheik Khalifa Mohsen Al-Baniwis-Baniwis was assassinated during the night by unknown assailants near Dhoulouiyah, 70 km north of Baghdad. The sheik had been considered a moderate and was a member of a municipal council approved by US forces in the area. Another Iraqi was killed and four others wounded in clashes between rebels and Iraqi National Guard. A child was killed and three adults wounded between Samarra and Tikrit by the explosion of a roadside bomb. In Samarra, 125 km north of Baghdad, four persons were wounded in further clashes between rebels and Iraqi National Guard.
12:23 Rumsfeld visits Tikrit and Fallujah. After stopping in Mosul, US Secretary of Defense Donad Rumsfeld travelled to Tikrit and Falljuah. In Tikrit he met with the commandant of the 1st Infantry Division, Gen. John Batiste. Batiste told Rumsfeld that 90% of the threats in the area came from ex-Ba'athists.
12:06 Archbishop of Westminster to criticize billions spent on war. Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of England and Wales will criticize the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair in his homily at the traditional Welsh Mass for the billions of pounds spent on the war in Iraq.
11:31 Baquba. Two police stations attacked. Armed men raided two police stations in Baquba, a farming town between Baghdad and Iranian border, where guerrillas are very active against the US occupation. According to witnesses fighting is ongoing in the Mafraq suburbs. Rebels are armed with RPGs and mortars.
11:30 Kirkuk. Kurdish officials kidnapped. Three Kurdish officials were kidnapped and a fourth was wounded in an ambush near Kirkuk by unknown assailants wearing stolen Iraqi National Guard uniforms.
11:28 Rumsfeld in Mosul to raise morale. Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to the US military base in Mosul which was bombed a few days ago. The Secretary of Defense had with him an impressive security escort.