Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Monday, January 17, 2005

January 17 Events in Iraq

Southern highways "a gauntet." Two major highways in southern Iraq have become a regular haunt for highway marauders. Travellers are relieved of their valuables and trucks are hijacked.

On the highway passing through Kut, 13 Iraqi soldiers were executed on Sunday despite there being a number of US checkpoints. An Agence France Presse reporter related that in Salman Pak, 10 km south of Baghdad, a Toyota with four armed men aboard ambushed a fuel tanker. The driver accelerated in an attempt to flee but the pirates blocked his escape. As the vehicle ground to a halt, the assailants opened fire on the cab and the driver. As the driver rushed out of the cab he was captured and bundled into the trunk of the Toyota. One of the pirates took the wheel of the tanker and drove off.

Salman Pak obeys the law of the jungle. The roadsides are littered with dozens of rusted or burned-out chassis. Insurgents regularly attack government rigs and tanker trucks and set fire to them. Last week five truckloads of electric generators were stolen. The highway, regularly used to ship freight from the Basrah docks to Baghdad, is prowled by insurgents.

Bassem, who recently drove to Aziziyah, 75 south of Baghdad, had his Opel stolen. He and his friends were pulled out of the car and left on the highway after being searched. The group walked to Jisr Dyala to report the theft but the police simply shrugged. Bassem returned to Salman Pak in an attempt to reclaim his stolen vehicle but found only armed rebels, who jeered him saying, We sacrifice our lives for Jihad, but you don't seem to be pleased to give us your car!

A local recounts how the insurgents killed the son of an Iraqi general. They told him to beg forgiveness of God at the mosque for working for the occupation. The insurgents found out later that he went to Baghdad to collect his monthly salary. They captured him, burned his legs on film and sent the video to the father.

Mrs. Hajia Fadha met a horrifying end. Her son worked for a UAR contractor to the US military and refused to resign despite threats. The insurgents killed him and ordered the mother to prepare the funeral. The rebels showed up at the wake, burned down the tent where it was held, killing eight mourners, and executed the mother.


Fallujah. 35 insurgents killed in Fallujah in clashes with US troops over the weekend.

Baghdad. Premier Allawi claims a cousin of Saddam Hussein arrested last month disposed of billions of dollars to finance the insurgency.

Baghdad. Deputy Premier Barham Saleh says the caretaker government is "preparing for he worst" during the upcoming elections. Meanwhile US Gen George W. Casey says violence will continue up to and beyond the elections.

Basrah. 650 British troops arrive to reinforce security arrangements for the elections.

Baghdad. Premier Iyad Allawi has asked UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to send international observers to Iraq.

Baghdad. Expat voters estimated. UK (250,000),USA (240,000), Australia (40,000), Belgium (10,000), Austria (10,000), Switzerland (10,000), Iran (120,000), United Arab Emirates (100,000).

21:58 New York. Torture: parents of Charles Graner defend son. Parents claim information extracted by Graner was "worth the deed" and that their son was "doing is duty."

21:53 Baghdad. US arrests 100 rebels over last three days.

20:52 Mosul. Archbishop kidnapped. The Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Emmanuel Delly, asks all Iraqi Catholics to pray for the release of the Archbishop of Mosul.

19:16 Vatican City. Catholic archibishop kidnapped. The Vatican Press Secretary Joaquin Navarro Valls announces the kidnapping of Archbishop Basil George Casmoussa. A group of armed men travelling in two cars pulled up alongside the Archbishop as he was about to get into his chauffeured vehicle. The group grabbed Monsignor Casmussa and bundled him into the truck of one of the cars. The Catholic community in the Mosul region numbers 75,000 people.

17:07 Ramadi. Two bombings. A carbomb exploded in the downtown area after pulling alongside a US convoy. US casualties reported. A second bomb damaged a US vehicle in anther district of the city.

16:43 Ramadi. Two decapitated bodies discovered. A message was attached to the corpses: "This what happens to collaborators."

16:21 Baquba. Al Zarqawi claims credit for attack on checkpoint. A group linked to al Zarqawi claimed credit for an attack carried out by 20 commandos on a National Guard checkpoint, killing 7 Guards.

16:06 Baghdad. 16 killed south of capital. 13 Iraqi soldiers and three civilians killed 50 km south of Baghdad. Thirteen National Guards were executed by rebels along a highway between Baghdad and the south of the country.

15:40 Baghdad. Licence to kill. 50,000 professional bodyguards working in Iraq are now required to carry a licence, says Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Adnan Hadi al-Assadi. Bodyguards must also deposit a $25,000 guaranty.

15:21 Paris. Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini says Italian troops to remain in Iraq following a meeting with French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier.

11:28 Ramadi. Carbomb kills three and wounds 9. Three civilians were killed by a carbomb targeting a US patrol in Ramadi.

09:28 Baiji. Carbomb targets police barracks; 7 dead and 15 wounded. A suicide carbomb broke through a checkpoint and rammed the entrance of a police barracks. .

07:41 Baquba. Rebels attack checkpoint. Iraqi insurgents attacked a checkpoing in Buhriz, 55 km south of Baquba. Seven National Guards were killed. One victim was slain as he recited morning prayers.


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