Friday, February 24, 2006
Fierce streetfighting at my doorstep for the last 3 hours. Rumor in the neighbourhood is that men in black are trying to enter the area. Some armed kids defending the local mosque three blocks away are splattering bullets at everything that moves, and someone in the street was shouting for people to prepare for defending themselves.
There's supposed to be a curfew, but it doesn't look like it. My net connection is erratic, so I'll try to update again if possible. The news from other areas in Baghdad are horrible. I don't think it's being reported anywhere.
My father and uncle are agitatedly walking back and forth in the hallway, asking me what we should do if the mob or Interior ministry forces try to attack us in our homes? I have no answer for them.
UPDATE: Apparently, the attackers were fended off in our neighbourhood. The fight ended about 2 hours ago, about the same time electric power returned to our area. Now we are only hearing sporadic gunshots here and there. To have an idea of what was going on, listen to these small audio files I recorded using a cell phone.
News are conflicting. Some say the local National Guard unit (its commander is from our own area) helped repel the assailants. Others say the neighbourhood watch teams clashed with an armed group in several unmarked vehicles.
The same situation occured in both Adhamiya and Al-Khadhraa'. In Adhamiya, armed groups in black crossed the river in boats from neighbouring Kadhimiya and took over the Nu'man hospital.
In Khadhraa', a combined force of Interior ministry forces and men dressed in black are surrounding 2 mosques with several families inside, threatening to burn them down on the occupants. Baghdad TV (the Islamic party's channel) is updating on the situation through telephone calls from inside the mosque. The families are crying for outside assistance.
Other bits from here and there:
An armed group in 10 vehicles with no number plates entered the Al-Iskan Al-Sha'bi district in Dora, and attempted to enter mosque, but was turned back by the residents. Eyewitnesses claim that as many as 40 bodies and 5 burnt vehicles are still in the area. 3 attackers were also killed in Dora when they attempted to enter the Al-Kubaisi mosque.
Another group dressed in black in one Daewoo and two Opel vehicles passed the Interior ministry forces' checkpoint at Abu Dshir square, south of Dora, with no resistance and entered the Yassin mosque with explosives in tin containers. The keeper was killed and the mosque blown up.
a Shi'ite armed group carried Sheikh Ghazi Al-Zoba'i in a pickup truck around Sadr city, shouting that they have a Wahhabi terrorist with them, before he was lynched on the streets by the angry mob.
Government officials and spokespersons are deliberately suppressing any news of these ongoing attacks on Sunni neighbourhoods and mosques. The official Al-Iraqiya channel is playing a historical movie, while other channels are playing Shi'ite mourning and Quran. The Interior ministry says it only has reports of 19 mosques attacked and one cleric killed. Go figure.
All is not well.