March 9 Events in Iraq
Teheran. Lawyer Shirin Ebadi, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, said today in a speech to the French National Assembly that democracy cannot be imported using warplanes. We effectively have problems with human rights and democracy but this does not constitute a permit to bomb our country. Planting democracy in Iran must be left to the Iranian people. She also urged Europe to avoid sacrificing democracy on the altar of economic interest.
Baghdad. Two Iraqis soldiers were killed by a bomb north of the capital. Meanwhile a truck driver working for an American military base was abushed and killed.
Mosul. US military arrests 81. Eighty-one persons suspected of terrorist activities were rounded up by US and Iraqi troops.
Baghdad. Shi'ite and Kurds work overtime to reach an accord on a new government before the first sitting of the new parliament on 16 March. The two groups are now concentrating on the naming of a President and two Vice Presidents, says Mrs. Mariam Taleb Rayess, a Shi'ite MP. Things are progressing and we'll have an agreement signed by the two blocks within a few days, says Shi'ite MP Adnan Ali.
Baghdad. Foreign Arabs sentenced for terrorist activiites. Eight Arab foreigners, four Saudis, three Syrians and a Yemeni have been sentenced to between five and twelve years in prison for "abetting terrorism." One Saudi was arrested in Ramadi, another in Rabia on the Syrian border and two in Nassiriyah. The three Syrians were arrested in Fallujah, Erbil and Housseiba. The Yemeni was also arrested in Fallujah. Meanwhile seven Iraqis were sentenced to between 18 months and 2 year for "illegal possession of firearms."
Baghdad. Authorities round up non-Iraqi Arabs. Iyad Allawi's government is harrassing and rounding up non-Iraqi Arabs who may be in the country illegally. For the last two weeks al-Iraqia TV has been broadcasting a flood of "confessions" said to be obtained from Syrians and Iraqis claiming to be in the pay of Syrian intelligence. The network has also been raising the public fear towards Sudanese residents, accusing them of terrorist activities. The Interior Ministry says it is conducting a campaign to deport illegal aliens of all foreign nationalities. We are trying to end infiltration of foreign combattants even if we do not yet control 100% of our borders, says an Interior Ministry spokesman.
20:40 Rome. Fini says Iraq is a dangerous place for any reporter. Italian Deputy Premier Gianfranco Fini says Iraq is a dangerous place for all journalists. There are presently 110 Italian citizens in Iraq, including diplomats, NGO workers, Red Cross doctors and nurses, and military trainers.
20:22 Rome. Thanks to Italy, European willing to trust Bush. Deputy Premier Gianfranco Fini says It is thanks to Italy that the United States now wishes to internationalize the crisis and to involve the United Nations. Italy is among those nations which have made the USA's new policy towards Europe possible."
19:36 Rome: Deputy Premier Gianfranco Fini says Berlusconi affirms Italy's right to deal with kidnappers and that in this respect its policy diverges from that of the United States.
19:35 Rome. USA was informed of arrival of kidnapped reporter. Our intelligence officer at Baghdad airport had confirmed to us that he spoke with the Americans after receiving a cellphone call from Nicola Calipari saying that he "was arriving with the kidnapped reporter." The officer in question was an Italian Army General whose name has been concealed. Fini also added that Calipari dutifully informed US authorities of his presence in Baghdad but of his mission--because Italy is a sovereign nation which has a relationship of loyalty, not subserviance, with the United States.
19:01 Rome. Fini says no ransom was paid for the release of Giuliana Sgrena.
18:59 Rome. Italian representative in inquest is named. The Italians will send Cesare Ragaglini as representative to the US-Italian commission of inquest into the death of Nicola Calipari.
17:09 Rome. Berlusconi advises Italians to avoid travel to Iraq.
17:00 Rome. Berlusconi says US must show Italy the maximum degree of cooperation in Calipari inquest.
16:55 Rome. Berlusconi says Calipari informed the USA of arrival at airport with hostage. Mr. Calipari transmitted to a US colonel at Baghdad Airport though our communications officer, whom we originally believed to be the fourth person travelling in the car, information that he was about to arrive in the airport area. During the trip, halfway into the curve, the car was proceeding an a very slow speed when it was illuminated by a spotlight 10 meters away. As soon as the driver noticed the spotlight he came to a stop within a few meters. The vehicle was then fired upon for 10 to 15 seconds.
16:54 Rome. Berlusconi denies any connection between Italian troop presence in Iraq and kidnappings.
16:53 Rome. Berlusconi says the mystery "fourth person" was at the airport. Silvio Berlusconi says an Italian intelligence officer was a Baghdad Aiport to serve as communications liaison.
16:48 Rome. Berlusconi says US and Italian versions of incident do not coincide.
16:33 Baghdad. Minister escapes assassination. The Iraqi Planning Minister Mahdi al-Hafez survived an assassination attempt this morning. Two of his bodyguards were killed and several wounded in the attack.
15:57 Baghdad. US soldier killed by homemade bomb while on patrol.
15:56 Rome. Italian Parliament to vote on refinancing of the Italian military mission in Iraq next week.
15:11 Rome. Calderoli says Calipari would still be alive if Sgrena had been more careful. Minister for Reform Roberto Calderoli says Giuliana Sgrena's presence as a reporter in a danger zone led to Calipari's death. Calderoli also called for a complete ban on the presence of any Italian civilian in Iraq. [Nice guy, huh?--Nur].
14:35 Sofia. Communications problem led to death of Bulgarian soldier from friendly fire. Concerning the Bulgarian soldier killed by US troops near Karbala, Bulgarian Chief of Staff General Nikola Kolev said Gradi Gradev was killed while on patrol with with 14 other soldiers on the highway between Diwaniyah and Baghdad. The unit's GPS equipment had broken down. The Bulgarians had fired into the air to force an Iraqi vehicle to stop alarming a US radio position nearby which the Bulgarians were unable to distinguish in the dark. The US opened fire on the Bulgarians, killing Gradev. The communications problem between patrols and the US monitoring positions along the highway was pointed out two days before the incident but had not been resolved, said Gen. Kolev.
14:27 Baghdad. Islamic Army kidnaps two Sudanese. The Islamic Army released an Internet communiqué saying it had kidnapped two Sudanese working for the US military. The two were employed by a Turkish company as chauffeurs for a US airbase north of Baghdad. The Islamic Army is thought to have kidnapped and executed Italian reporter Enzo Baldoni last year.
14:27 Rome. Medical bulletin on the condition of Giuliana Sgrena. The patient is in satisfactory condition; the wound to the shoulder and the pulmonary contusion are gradually healing, announced spokesman Massimo Nardi of the Celio Military Hospital. Today a CAT scan has confirmed a pulmonary contusion but dismissed the presence of a shard in the lung. When the wound area on the shoulder improves, we will perform plastic surgery to suture the wound.
13:52 Rome. Farnesina Palace: "Specific threats directed against reporters." The Farnesina Palace renews its exhortation to journalists to avoid Iraq due to the absence of conditions guaranteeing security for Italians, in particular reporters. Foreign Ministry Spokeman Pasquale Terracciano issued a warning directed at reporters, referencing "specific threats" of execution and kidnapping.
13:33 Rome. Bush writes to Italian President Ciampi. US President George W. Bush has written to President Ciampi expression solidarity with the Italian government over the "tragic incident" in which Nicola Calipari was killed. Bush made assurances that there would be a rapid and exhaustive joint investigation into this terrible tragedy.
13:01 Baghad. Ultimatum to Phillipine government. The kidnappers of a Philippino taken hostage in November have issued an ultimatum to expire on March 11 to the Manila government demanding that more than 6,000 of its nationals engaged as base workers for the US military be ordered home or else the hostage will be executed.
12:35 Nassiriya. Son of official is kidnapped. A 10 year-old child, the son of a Nassiriya official, was kidnapped yesterday. Muhsin Haddabs was led away by a gang of armed men near his home in the Shumukh district in south Nassiriyah.
12:05 Rome. Giuliana Sgrena to join in legal action against US. Giuliana Sgrena has contacted the Gamberini legal firm of Bologna, Italy, to join as an injured party [yeah, literally--Nur] in the ongoing inquest initiated by the Rome Public Prosecutor's Office into the shooting incident following her release in which Italian intelligence officer Nicola Calipari was slain.
11:41 Qaim. 30 bodies recovered. 23 bullet-ridden bodies were recovered near the Syrian frontier in the town of Qaim. Meanwhile another seven bodies were found in Rommana, along the Euphrates River.
11:17 Al Anbar. Car bombing. A suicide car bomb was detonated at a checkpoint near the US base in Habbaniyah in western al-Anbar Province. An Iraqi officer and two policemen were killed.
11:01 Iskandariya. Five suspeced guerrillas killed. US and Iraqi troops killed five suspected rebels and wounded another five in a series of joint operations in Iskandariya, south of Baghdad. Meanwhile 16 suspected rebels were arrested in Iskandariya, Latifiya and Haswa. Police claim to have located a car filled with explosives.
10:38 Basrah. Bomb targets patrol and kills police officer. An Iraqi police officer was killed by a roadside bomb on a Basrah street. Two others and a civilian were wounded.
10:16 Brussels. Wall Street Journal (Europe Edition): Paying a ransom is worse than a hail of bullets at a checkpoint. The most neglected aspect of the Sgrena affair and the death of Nicola Calipari is not the tragic incident at an American checkpoint, but the fact that Italy paid a ransom.
10:04 Baghdad. Al Zarqawi claims credit for attack of Agriculture Ministry. Al Zarqawi claims credit for a coordinated attack by armed militamen and a suicide bomber on the Agriculture Ministry and on the al-Sadeer Hotel in Baghdad. The US embassy reports the wounding of 40 Americans, 30 of whom were contractual employees working in the electrical sector lodging at the al-Sadeer Hotel. A suicide truck bomb, which exploded between the ministry and the hotel, left a crater 2 meters deep. Al Zarqawi referred to the hotel as a "bastion of Jews." and said the attack was conducted before dawn to spare any passers-by or Muslim victims. Rebels destroyed two barricades before the attack using RPGs and killed the guards manning the barriers.
09:51 Qaim. Bodies recovered near Syrian border are those of civilians. Dr. Hamdi al-Alousi of the Qaim hospital says all 23 bodies recovered last night are those of civilians, including one women. At least one victim was a policeman.
09:09 Chorgat. Policeman and interpreter killed in separate incidents. An Iraqi police captain was assasinated outside his home in Chorgat, 300 km north of Baghdad. An interpreter was slain in Kirkuk.
08:41 Baghdad. One killed in attack on minibus belonging to Kuwaiti firm. One passenger was killed and another wounded in a rebel attack on a minibus transporting employees of a Kuwaiti firm to work.
07:53 Baghdad. Truck bomb targets Agriculture Ministry in downtown Baghdad. At least two are dead and 30 wounded in a suicide bombing using a garbage truck near the Agriculture Ministry.At approximately 6:30 am Baghdad time, a garbage truck was driven into the rear entrance of the Agriculture Ministry. According to a witness, the two people inside the truck wore police uniforms. Before impact, one of the occupants was heard to shout Allah Akbar!