Archive for the ‘killed’ Category

Former Taliban Spokesman Killed in Afghanistan

November 30, 2008

A former high-profile spokesman for the Taleban has been shot dead in eastern Afghanistan, officials have said.

Mohammad Hanif was killed at his home in the province of Nangarhar along with three other people who were believed to be his relatives.

BBC

Some reports said the assailants were wearing Afghan army uniforms.

Dr Hanif, as he was known, was arrested in January 2007, but freed from custody this year. It was thought he no longer had any contact with the Taleban.

Convoy attack

District official Sayed Mohammad told Associated Press news agency the attackers had used ladders to climb into Dr Hanif’s home in Chaparhar.

Another official said the others killed were Dr Hanif’s cousin, brother-in-law and nephew and that the attack may have been linked to a family feud.

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7755106.stm

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China Says Children Killed In Earthquake Vastly More Than First Reported

November 21, 2008

China acknowledged Friday for the first time that more than 19,000 schoolchildren were among the dead in the massive earthquake that struck Sichuan province in May.

By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writer

The earthquake left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing, but the government had never said how many of the casualties were students. Most died when their shoddily built elementary and secondary schools collapsed.

Their deaths become a sensitive political issue for the government, with parents of dead children staging protests demanding investigations. Many of the parents have also been subjected to intimidation and financial inducements to silence them.

The student death toll of 19,065 was given at a news conference on preparations for the winter by Wei Hong, executive vice governor of Sichuan.

Wei said that millions of those displaced in the earthquake still need quilts and repairs to their homes if they are to survive the coming winter, expected to be unusually cold.

The earthquake, which was centered in the southwestern province of Sichuan, displaced millions and left China struggling to carry out reconstruction work.

Wei said relief work was important because experts were predicting temperatures would be slightly lower this winter in the area compared to previous years.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081121/ap_
on_re_as/as_china_earth
quake_students;_ylt=AgxzFn2vcmo6a9pG21.85CCs0NUE

British Troops Forced to “Make Do” Killed in Afghanistan by Taliban

November 15, 2008

Capt David Hicks, who was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry, told his girlfriend Nicola Billen that his men were “sitting ducks” at their makeshift base just days before he was killed in an attack.

In letters to Miss Billen, seen by The Daily Telegraph, he repeatedly spoke of his “frustration” that requests for equipment went unheard.

On several occasions he had asked for a doctor for be sent to the remote outpost called Inkerman base because they were being attacked twice a day by the Taliban.

But it was not until the officer was killed while leading the counterattack against the enemy on Aug 11 last year that a doctor was permanently stationed at the base.

By Thomas Harding
Defence Correspondent
The Telegraph, London

The coroner at Capt Hick’s inquest earlier this week criticised the Ministry of Defence for forcing troops to “make do” on the front line after the court also heard that the sand-bagged fortifications were poor.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/3459999/Officer-warned-of-equipment-
shortages-on-the-frontline-in-letters-to-his-fiancee.html

Five years in Iraq: a deep disquiet in the US

March 20, 2008
By Peter Grier 

Washington – The Iraq war has been perhaps America’s bitterest lesson since Vietnam in the realities of war and geopolitics – profoundly altering ordinary citizens’ sense of their country, its essential abilities, and the overall role it plays in the world.
US soldiers take up positions to provide cover for fellow soldiers ... 
U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Photo by: (AFP/File/David Furst)

Poll after poll shows that Americans are worried about US troops. They’re distressed at the war’s rising human and financial cost and are fully aware of the globe’s rising tide of anti-Americanism. Most of all, they may be confused – unsure of how the United States got here, uncertain about what to do next, and in doubt about how, and when, the conflict will end.

“It’s just become a mess, and I don’t think there’s an easy end to it, so we’re going to end up in a quagmire,” says Ben Lem, a Boston-area cafe owner.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20080320/ts_csm/airaqthree;_ylt=AnLfuECgvS
txGNgK0lCxG46s0NUE

Americans Bombed In Pakistan Violence

March 15, 2008

Message from Muhammad in Pakistan, March 16, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,I hope you and your team will be alright.

At the moment there is complete choas in Pakistan as terrorists have been making last-ditch effort to assert their authority. Besides declaring government in Bajaur Agency tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan they have carried suicide blast in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

Reports gathered from various sources revealed blast at an Italian restaurant in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Saturday appears to have killed at least two people and wounded 15.

A foreign woman was one of the dead. A witness told newsmen the explosion occurred in a garden dining area at the rear of the Luna Caprese restaurant, which is frequented by expatriates, including diplomats, aid agency workers, and journalists.
Pakistani volunteers unload an injured victim of a bomb explosion ... 
Pakistani volunteers unload an injured victim of a bomb explosion from a police van at a local hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan Saturday, March 15, 2008. A bomb apparently killed at least two people and wounded nine others Saturday at an Italian restaurant popular with foreigners in Pakistan’s capital, police said.(AP Photo)

A police official said a blast hit a restaurant frequented by foreigners in the federal capital.

“There was an explosion inside the Luna Caprese Italian restaurant in the centre of the capital in Supermarket area,” police official Mohammad Ishtiaq told AFP. 

An AFP photographer at the scene said several of the injured who were stretchered out of the restaurant were foreigners. Witnesses also confirmed casualties.

“There are lots of injured people who have lost their limbs and legs, foreigners were inside. It’s a very bad situation. We don’t know what has happened,” an employee at the restaurant said.

Pakistan volunteers remove a foreigner injured victim at the ...
Pakistan volunteers remove a foreigner injured victim at the site of bomb explosion in Islamabad, Pakistan Saturday, March 15, 2008. Photo from the Associated Press.

“It was a very powerful blast. There is a lot of blood here, the walls are splattered with it. I see lots of human flesh,” the employee said.

According to another report, two persons including a US female citizen have died and over 15 others have injured in Islamabad blast on Saturday evening.

A US female citizen identified as Ellen, who was nurse at the US embassy was killed in the blast.Three US citizens and including two doctors and a Chinese citizen included among the citizens. The majority of injured is reportedly foreigners, the sources added.

The blast occurred in the backside of an Italian restaurant “Luna Caprese” near Super market, the sources said. Over 15 injured including foreigners have been shifted to hospitals.

Nature of the blast, which happened at about 850PM is yet to be ascertained.

Dear Sir, situation is very very critical.

Again thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan
Injured foreign nationals wait for ambulances at the site of ... 
Injured foreign nationals wait for ambulances at the site of bomb explosion in Islamabad, Pakistan Saturday, March 15, 2008. A bomb killed two people and wounded nine others Saturday at an Italian restaurant popular with foreigners in Pakistan’s capital, police said.(AP Photo)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — A bomb exploded in the back garden of an Italian restaurant popular with foreigners in Pakistan’s capital Saturday night, killing two people and wounding nine, police said.

It appeared to be the first attack targeting foreigners in a recent wave of violence.

Police have not determined whether the bomb was planted in the Luna Caprese’s back garden, or whether a suicide bomber attacked the restaurant, said police officer Irshad Abro. Two people were killed and nine hurt, he said.

Related (From March 16, 2008):
Pakistan: Restaurant Bombing Saturday Injured Several Americans

For A Few Americans; War Means Devastating Loss Of Life

March 9, 2008
By Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press Writer

Laura Youngblood clutched her husband’s photo as she drove alone to the hospital. She’d become pregnant nearly nine months earlier, the day he’d left for training for Iraq. Hours later, after the baby was born, she placed the photo in the bassinet next to the infant he’d named Emma in his last letter home. He would never hold her.

 

Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis L. Youngblood, 26, had died two months earlier, killed by an improvised explosive device.

Laura Youngblood is just 29 years old, but she insists she will not remarry. Her life is her children, now ages 2 and 7. One day, she says, she’ll be buried in the plot with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.

“I tell people I’m a happily married woman,” she says, crying.

Five years after U.S. troops invaded Iraq, there are many tears — though not everyone is crying. For the great majority of Americans, this is a war seen from afar. They turn off the news and forget about what is happening a world away.

Then there’s the other war, the one that’s a very vivid and present part of some Americans’ lives.

It’s the war that more than a million U.S. soldiers have fought, leaving nearly 4,000 dead and more than 29,000 wounded in action. The one in which thousands of contractors rushed in to serve and to make a buck — though some paid the ultimate price, as well.

Around military bases across America, vacations are planned around deployment schedules. Mini baby booms occur nine months after troops come home. Support groups for widows and injured soldiers have come together.

At small town National Guard armories, the focus has shifted from one weekend a month to filling out life insurance forms and packing a rucksack for war.

“‘How did I end up in this kind of a situation?’ There were a lot of guys that said that,” says Jeff Myers, 48, a tech sergeant in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard from Pillow, Pa. His lips still discharge shrapnel shreds, the residue of two roadside bombs he survived in 2004; a neurologist monitors the concussions he sustained.

In his job as a gunner guarding Army convoys, he saw men so paralyzed by fear they wouldn’t go outside the wire. He saw others die 15 minutes after he was chatting with them.

It’s not a matter of whether you will have to deal with things like irritability and nightmares after you get home, he says: “It’s how you deal with it when it does happen.”

And how you deal with your fellow Americans who experience Iraq from a distance.

Amanda Jordan, whose Marine husband was killed three days into the war, says she doesn’t know what bothers her more — the days that go by when no one speaks of the war, or the punditry. At a local diner she frequents with her 11-year-old son near their home in Enfield, Conn., she’s contemplated standing up and leaving so he doesn’t hear when people say Iraq was unnecessarily invaded.

“This is like my life. You’re saying my spouse, my child’s father, is dead for no reason,” says Jordan, a 39-year-old former paralegal who is studying to be a therapist specializing in grief. “That’s a pretty harsh thing to hear all the time.”

___

Some can tell you exactly when their lives changed.

For Hazel Hoffman, from outside Grand Rapids, Mich., it was when the phone rang and she learned her son, Josh, was shot by a sniper. He was left a quadriplegic, unable to speak.

“I cried so hard that I had tears of blood. I remember looking down wondering, where is all this blood coming from? And it took a few seconds for me to realize this was coming out of me,” says Hoffman, who has lived more than a year in an apartment with her son’s girlfriend near his hospital in Richmond, Va.

Suzanne Stack, 48, was soaking in the bathtub in their house at Fort Campbell, Ky., when the doorbell rang. There were two officers at the door.

Afterward, still numb from the news of her husband’s death, she walked her kids to the school bus. She sensed that people were looking at her fearfully, as if they were afraid they would be next. Even before the funeral, one spouse told her there was a waiting list for post housing. When would she be moving out?

“One day you’re one thing. The next thing you’re not. It’s really quite a shock,” says Stack, of Fredericksburg, Va., who now volunteers as an advocate for widows on Capitol Hill.

Walter Lajuane Williams, 33, of Fremont, Calif., was stoned when his turning point came. He was couch surfing, unemployed and in an abusive relationship after he left the Army, which took him to Iraq and Afghanistan. Even his service was criticized: “I had a person tell me, `How could you kill another person?'”

He went to the nonprofit Swords to Plowshares, looking for help finding work. A caseworker, wise to his drug use, took him aside. “I’m going to tell you candidly how I feel and what I smell,” he said. “I’m going to work with you. Don’t make me regret it.”

Williams now helps other vets find jobs.

“All we need is a chance,” Williams says.

___

Recently, an Iraq veteran came to Daniel Fox’s office and asked to take a screening exam for post-traumatic stress disorder a second time. He’d lied the first time, he said.

“When I asked him why he wasn’t honest, he said because I had just gotten home and everybody’s like saying, ‘Welcome home hero,'” Fox says. “And how could he tell him that this hero was not doing well?”

Fox, 47, works for the Department of Veterans Affairs as a case manager, assisting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. For a year, Fox, an Army Reservist, worked as an intensive care nurse at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany; the injured would be airlifted from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fox and his fellow nurses called themselves the ICU angels on the ICU angels tour. To lighten the mood, they made T-shirts with the slogan. Their bravado just helped mask their intense emotions.

“You had a mom and dad and the new wife with the babies in their arms standing in the door of this patient’s room and he’s got a gunshot wound to the head,” says Fox, of Wichita, Kan. “How do you explain that to them? You can’t console them.”

“After a while, you go home and you cry about it,” he says.

He used to be more macho and unemotional. Today, “I have more sympathy, more compassion,” he says.

Lt. Col. Douglas Etter’s job was sympathy and compassion. Etter, a minister, was a chaplain with the Pennsylvania National Guard in Al Anbar Province; his battalion lost 13 soldiers and two Marines.

He laid his hands on some of the men and delivered last rites. One morning, after he memorialized two of the dead, he says his stoicism dissolved; jogging by the Euphrates River, he cried.

In blunt newsletters home, he chronicled what the troops were seeing and experiencing, from delivering shoes and school supplies to happy Iraqi children to the story of a dead soldier wrapped in a flag by his fellow soldiers in the middle of a firefight because nothing else was available.

“As excited as we are to go home, many are equally afraid,” he wrote in one of his last letters.

When Etter himself returned on leave to Pennsylvania to officiate at the funeral of a close friend, he turned to his wife and said he wanted to go home.

“I said, `OK, get in the car. Let’s go home,'” said Jodi Etter. “And you said, ‘No, my home in Iraq. I just want to go home.'”

When his tour was over, and he went with his wife to buy furniture for their new house in Lebanon, Pa., he had to remind himself that it was important to her — even if it seemed trivial to him after the war. He drove fast, and bought a BMW so he could do it. One day, Jodi pointed out that he was drinking more.

With time, his life settled down, and he came to feel that his months in Iraq were a time of growth. Now executive director of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Veterans Affairs, Etter says a deployment is like a magnifying glass.

“Personalities that are strong become stronger,” he says. “Personalities which are weaker are made to become weaker.”

___

Phil Nesmith came away from Iraq with a certain clarity.

It wasn’t the money that lured him to Iraq, he insists. He was like most of the U.S. troops he was living with at the time — idealistic about the mission.

He had been an Army paratrooper, but now he was among the first group of government contractors to arrive in Iraq after the invasion in 2003. His task was to help get telecommunications running.

At night, rockets flew into their compound. Sometimes they missed and hit apartments nearby, killing Iraqis. On the ground near where he was sleeping, a young officer shot and killed himself.

Violence did not account for all the stress. While he was there, Nesmith says, his relationship with his girlfriend of three years ended and she got pregnant by another man. “Pretty much every other soldier around me, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever, had left them or they suspected them cheating on them.”

It was hard. “You’ve left your life and you’re wanting to maintain some kind of connection with that, but everything you left behind is continuing on even though your life is kind of suspended while you’re there.”

As he left Iraq, he crossed paths with a contractor who bragged about what he was going to buy with the money he was going to make in Iraq.

“I was just like, well, `You know, everybody’s got their reasons, but I’ve got to ask you this: You lose both your legs, is that $160,000 going to be worth it?'” he says.

By that point, Nesmith says he knew what he wanted, what was important. He wanted to backpack through Australia, visit Montana, and go to photography school.

He did all three.

He had taken pictures in Iraq. Now he took some of those shots and manipulated them to look like they were taken in the Civil War era. They were shown at Washington, D.C.’s Irvine Contemporary Gallery in Washington, D.C., and priced at $1,500 each.

One photo depicts a single soldier standing alone in the desert. It reminds him of his own plight. “I knew I was on my journey back and when I got there I was going to be alone,” Nesmith says. “No one was going to understand what that year was like.”

Another photo, his favorite, is of an Iraqi flag flying outside a government utility office. Some Iraqis had just put it up. It was a time of optimism.

But now, he says, “it just seems like a more naive time, when you thought there was so much more that could possibly happen.”

___

Before Travis Youngblood left for Iraq, he and his wife watched a TV interview with a pregnant woman whose husband had died in Iraq. Laura Youngblood cried.

“I felt so sorry for her,” Youngblood says.

But then, “When my husband died, my first words were, ‘I became her.'”

Today in nearly every room of her Florida house, there’s a photo of her husband.

“It is hard. I feel bad for my son because he’s 7. He doesn’t know how to ride a two-wheel bike. His daddy was going to teach him,” she says. “I can’t do all the boy things that he wants to do.”

She put together videos so her daughter will know the father she never met.

“I’m a survivor of the war. I’m a surviving spouse,” Youngblood says. “That’s the best way I can say it because every day you’re surviving.”

China Concerned for Mine Safety

February 18, 2008

BEIJING – China‘s work safety agency warned Monday that a new wave of accidents could be triggered as coal mines shut by the wintry weather resume operations.

The State Administration of Work Safety warned on its Web site that the buildup of deadly gases, flooding and unstable power supply at the mines could all cause problems.

Nearly 1,800 mines in the southern provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou and Yunnan — all hit hard by freak snowstorms — have accumulated gases because they were forced to shut down because of power cuts, it said. Another 600 mines have been flooded.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080218/ap_on_re_as/china_coal_mines_2

 
China’s Mines Killed More Than 3,700 Last Year: Corruption a Problem

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 18, 2008; Page A10

LINFEN, China — Mining has resumed in the frigid shafts, and long lines of 18-wheelers laden with coal once again clog the twisty mountain roads leading out of Linfen. This grime-covered city, where the packed snow long ago turned black and carbon-colored dust hangs in the air, has reclaimed its role as the capital of coal.

A gas explosion in December threatened Linfen’s boom ways. The accident, at a suburban mine, killed 105 workers and led authorities to halt this region’s production of the coal so badly needed to fuel China‘s roaring economy. The businesses in Linfen, in Shanxi province 400 miles southwest of Beijing, were hit hard. “They wouldn’t let anybody work,” complained Liu Wancong, who runs a small grocery in the city center.

The toll from the explosion ranked as the year’s second-worst. The government reported 3,786 miners killed in 2007, a 20 percent drop from 2006 but still making the country’s mines the most dangerous in the world.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/17/AR2008021702229.html

Diplomats Who Refuse Assignments: “Hit The Road, You are Terminated with Prejudice and Without Pay”

November 2, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 2, 2007

Members of America’s famously proud and elitist diplomatic corps have said they will not serve in Iraq so apparently we now live in an America where an oath, a commitment, responsibility, the team and orders don’t count for a thing: even in wartime.

My response to the so called “diplomats” and such “public servants” is analogous to that of Ronald Reagan when air controllers who were Federal Government employees decided to go on strike. The President basically said: “You guys are all fired. Clean out your desks and lockers.”

Ronald Wilson Reagan
Ronald Reagan

There are times when the team is more important than the individual. There are times when an oath has meaning. Who are these bastard that think they are more important than our troops who are fighting and dying in war in behalf of all of us?

Dear members of the American Foreign Service and Diplomatic Corps: your freedom and your cushy jobs are being bought and paid for every day by members of the U.S. Military.  In blood.  You are no longer fit to be called “American” if you cannot take on the occasional tough job between the “cocktail postings.”

In my view, these renegade State Department employees should never again receive a U.S. Government check. They should never again be paid with taxpayer money. And if the president had the power to banish them: he should send them to Uzbekistan or some other garden spot to serve out the remainder of their miserable and disloyal years on this earth.

In my younger years, I briefly aspired to become a United States Foreign Service Officer. I was drawn by the opportunity to serve my nation, to proudly represent the American people, while dealing with the other proud peoples of the globe.

But many of my advisors dissuaded me. Several said “You won’t like the members of the Foreign Service. They are all elitist snobs.” My Father, who served his country in the F.B.I., and two brothers who were U.S. Army Officers, said, “You can do what you want but isn’t there ANY OTHER group of people you’d rather spend your adult life with?”

There was: I became a career U.S. Naval Officer.

And as the years passed, and I had more and more experience with our so called “diplomats,” I knew I made the right decision. We have many fine diplomats and Foreign Service Officers. More than 1,500 members of the foreign service have served in Iraq and Afghanistan already. But this gang of scum who believe they can refuse their oath and continue in “service” of the nation need some awakening. Or they need to find new careers.

In the U.S. Military men and women are starkly aware that they serve “at the pleasure of the President.” That goes for every cabinet member and every member of their staffs. And I for one detest the notion that my taxes are paying for the cushy lifestyles of scum that refuse the orders of their government and their President; no matter the reason.

Related:

State Department Memories from The Hanoi Hilton

 Diplomat Jack Croddy: You Don’t Want to Go To Iraq? Step Forward and Meet the Families of the Fallen and Those that Serve

Condi Rice: Failure is a New Experience

The Abyss Between State and Defense

In Iraq: Reporters More Dedicated than the U.S. Foreign Service?

Diplomatic Infighting Hurts Terror War Effort

Rice Tells State Department Staff: You Took an Oath

A Diplomacy of neighborhoods

“Gaffe Machine” Karen Hughes Leaving State Department

State Department Security Chief Resigns Amid Blackwater Turmoil; Iraq Wants the Security Contractor Out

October 24, 2007

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The State Department’s security chief resigned on Wednesday in the wake of last month’s deadly Blackwater USA shooting incident in Baghdad and growing questions about the use of private contractors to protect diplomats in Iraq.

Richard Griffin, the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, announced his decision to step down at a weekly staff meeting, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, adding that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accepted the resignation, which is effective Nov. 1.

“Secretary Rice is grateful to Ambassador Griffin for his record of long exemplary service to the nation,” McCormack said. “He has distinguished himself during a 36-year career with the U.S. government, serving in some of the most sensitive and demanding posts.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071024/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_iraq_
blackwater;_ylt=AtmkLk4.3y9pGsCsmUhwIAas0NUE

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Iraq Still Determined to Expell Blackwater USA

By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – The Iraqi government remains determined to expel the Blackwater USA security company and is searching for legal remedies to overturn an American-imposed decree that exempts all foreign bodyguards from prosecution under local laws, officials said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki‘s government accepted the findings of an Iraqi investigative committee that determined Blackwater guards, without provocation, killed 17 Iraqis last month in Nisoor Square in western Baghdad.

Iraqi investigators declared that Blackwater should be expelled and $8 million should be paid as compensation for each victim.

The officials said the Cabinet decided Tuesday to establish a committee to find ways to repeal a 2004 directive issued by L. Paul Bremer, chief of the former U.S. occupation government in Iraq. The order placed private security companies outside Iraqi law.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

The Iraqi probe into the Sept. 16 shooting found that Blackwater personnel guarding a State Department convoy opened fire on Iraqis without reason. Blackwater said its men came under fire first, although no witnesses have been found to corroborate the claim. The guards involved have been isolated and have not been available to comment.

The Iraqi officials said Cabinet ministers again demanded that the U.S. Embassy, Blackwater’s biggest client in Iraq, expel the company. U.S. officials have said any action must await completion of an American investigation.

In Washington, the State Department’s security chief, Richard Griffin, announced his resignation a day after a review panel created by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ordered a series of measures to boost government oversight of the private guards who protect American diplomats in Iraq.

Rice’s review panel found serious lapses in the department’s oversight of such guards, who are employed by Griffin’s bureau.

Neither Griffin nor spokesmen for the department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau could be reached for immediate comment.

In a Shiite district southeast of Baghdad, meanwhile, two bombs exploded seconds apart near a bus station Wednesday, killing at least nine people, police and hospital officials said.

The blasts, which occurred about 30 yards apart in Jisr Diyala, targeted government employees, construction workers and vendors waiting for minibuses to take them into the capital, officials said. Vendors were selling pastries, juice and tea to the workers.

Three policemen, women and children were among the nine killed and 23 wounded, officials said.

Mohammed Nuaman, a 36-year-old store owner who was wounded by shrapnel in the shoulder, said rescue efforts were complicated by a damaged bridge. The bridge, which spans the Diyala River to connect the area with Baghdad proper, was bombed in May and remains under repair.

“I heard a big explosion at the bus station area and another bomb went off about 30 seconds later, as I was heading to the area,” Nuamen said.

“Locals rushed to the area and carried some wounded by their cars to the nearby Zafaraniyah hospital before the ambulances and police arrived about 15 minutes later,” he said.

Hours later, mortar shells rained onto a neighborhood in Hibhib, 30 miles north of Baghdad, killing at least five civilians and wounding 17, police said.

Hibhib, a Sunni town in Diyala province, was the area where al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike last year.

A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information, said the mortar rounds were launched from the nearby district of Hidaid and were targeting Sunnis who had turned against al-Qaida.

Despite bombings in Baghdad and elsewhere, the Iraqi civilian death count is projected to decline for the second consecutive month. At the current pace, October would have a death count of fewer than 900, down from 1,023 in September and 1,956 in August, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press.

The AP tally is compiled from hospital, police and military officials, as well as accounts from reporters and photographers. Insurgent deaths are not included. Other counts differ and some have given higher civilian death tolls.

U.S. and Iraqi military commanders said a security crackdown had succeeded in sharply reducing the violence.

Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar, the Iraqi in charge of the operation, said overall terrorist acts in Baghdad had decreased by 59 percent and the number of Iraqi casualties by 77 percent since the crackdown began in February. He also said car bombs in the capital were down by 65 percent and the number of people killed in bombings was down by 81 percent.

“All sectors in Baghdad have witnessed a decrease in terrorist activities,” Qanbar said. “This has brought life to normal in many parts of Baghdad.”

The American military has reported 29 military deaths in October, down sharply from the month before. The latest fatality reported occurred Wednesday when a land mine exploded in Salahuddin province north of Baghdad, the U.S. military reported.

The U.S. second-in-command said attack levels in Baghdad were on a “steady downward trend” and were now at the lowest level since January 2006.

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno said he expected the U.S. military to make steady progress over the next year in turning over large parts of Baghdad to Iraqi forces. “I think it’ll be somewhere between 40 and 50 percent by the end of the year,” he told reporters.

Related:

Armed Civilian Security Personnel In Iraq Held to Military Rules 

Myanmar still in fear as curfew lifted

October 22, 2007

YANGON (AFP) – Residents in Yangon on Sunday welcomed the end of a curfew imposed on the eve of Myanmar‘s bloody crackdown on peaceful protests, but voiced fears in private over the country’s iron-fisted junta.

The government ended the curfew Saturday in Yangon, Myanmar‘s main city, where authorities suppressed pro-democracy protests led by Buddhist monks in late September, killing at least 13 people and jailing about 3,000.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071021/wl_asia_afp/
myanmarunrest_071021105955