UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
IRAQ: Explosions destroying people and infrastructure
BAGHDAD, 31 Jan 2007 (IRIN) - Since the US-led occupation of Iraq began in 2003, hundreds of explosions have rocked the country, killing thousands of civilians and causing serious damage to vital infrastructure.
There are no official statistics on the total number of people who have been killed or injured specifically in bomb explosions and suicide attacks. However, officials at the Iraqi Ministry of Interior said the 20 deadliest bomb attacks in the country since 2003 had killed 1,750 people and injured 3,100.
On 16 January, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issued a report that said just over 34,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in 2006 and nearly 37,000 wounded.
In addition to the deaths and injuries caused directly by bombs, millions of civilians are suffering as a result of the havoc wreaked on the country’s infrastructure by such explosions, which have made it extremely difficult for the government to provide crucial public services.
“The constant attacks in Iraq have different targets but all of them have caused the further deterioration of water and sewage systems, the death of dozens of citizens and the destruction of hospitals, clinics, schools and universities,” said Fua’ad Rassi, a spokesman at the Ministry of Municipality and Public Works.
“When the government is trying to fix the infrastructure of Iraq, terrorists bring more panic and destruction, further delaying the repair of such important systems,” Rassi added.
These days Iraqis take extra precautions to avoid explosions by constantly changing their routes to work, universities or schools.
“In the past, you used to drive and take certain routes to avoid traffic jams and closed roads. But these days, when you drive you start by thinking which areas could be dangerous and should be avoided as they could be scenes of possible attacks,” said Mustafa Muhammad, 43, a taxi driver in the capital, Baghdad.
From the dozens of bomb and suicide attacks that occur on a monthly basis in Iraq, some 20 have been identified as the deadliest. Six of them happened in 2006.
The last of these attacks was on 22 January this year in Baghdad. Two simultaneous car bombs tore through a second-hand goods market in Bab al-Sharj, a busy commercial area in central Baghdad, killing at least 88 people and injuring 160, according to the Iraqi police.
Another brutal attack occurred on 12 December 2006 when a suicide bomber killed 70 people and wounded 236 in Tayran Square, in central Baghdad, after luring a crowd of labourers to his vehicle with promises of work.
Earlier, IRIN reported the story of a victim of this attack and of a mother who lost two sons in the same disastrous aggression to dozens of innocent civilians.
The attacks have not spared educational establishments. On 16 January this year, a car bomb went off in conjunction with a suicide bomb attack on Mustansiriyah University in Baghdad, killing at least 70 people and wounding 180, among them students and professors.
“It was the biggest attack against students’ lives and the educational system in Iraq. They [the attackers] were able to enter inside a university and kill people who were there to change the future of Iraq, learning to build a better country,” said Fadia Maruan, a professor at Mustansiriyah University who was injured during the explosion and lost at least three of her colleagues.
On 23 November 2006, six car bombs in different parts of Sadr City, a Shi’ite suburb of the capital, saw one of the most terrifying suicide attacks ever seen in Iraq. A total of 202 people were killed and 250 wounded, among them children and women.
A few months earlier, on 1 July, another explosion in a crowded market in the same neighbourhood killed 62 people and wounded at least 114 others.
Other deadly attacks occurred on 5 January 2006 in Karbala and Ramadi. Two suicide bombers killed more than 120 people and wounded more than 200. Fifty-three were killed and 148 wounded in Karbala and 70 killed and 65 wounded in Ramadi.
In addition to these major incidents, dozens of other attacks have happened since, killing and maiming thousands.
“They kill people, destroy families’ security and happiness and the government doesn’t do anything to change this. It just fights for political reasons while explosions happen every day and our sons and husbands die, leaving us without hope, sometimes without food and homes,” said Um Youssef, a 48-year-old mother-of-three who lost a husband, a son and a son-in-law in one explosion last year.
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