FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Attack on the Palestine Hotel

by KEN SENGUPTA And PATRICK COCKBURN

in Baghdad

It was the second time the 19-storey Palestine has come under attack leading to deaths. As US forces were first moving into Baghdad, an American Abrams tank shelled the hotel, killing and injuring a number of journalists.

A central Baghdad hotel used by foreign journalists and contractors, and guarded by American troops, has been hit by three huge suicide bombs.

At least 20 people were killed and 42 others injured when the explosive devices detonated outside the Palestine Hotel in the city centre. Some members of the media are believed to be among the injured.

The attacks were launched from Firdous Square, adjoining the hotel, where American troops pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein in what became one of the iconic images of the war. Soon afterwards, President George Bush declared that the war had been successfully concluded.

Yesterday’s attack was one of the most spectacular mounted during the increasingly violent insurgency which has followed, and is being seen as a vivid example of how little control the Americans and their Iraqi allies have in the heart of the capital.

According to the Iraqi government, the intention of the insurgents was to storm the hotel and take hostages. However, the concentration of the media in the vicinity also presented the bombers’ the opportunity for widespread international coverage.

It was the second time the 19-storey Palestine has come under attack leading to deaths. As US forces were first moving into Baghdad, an American Abrams tank shelled the hotel, killing and injuring a number of journalists.

In yesterday’s attack, a cement-mixing truck packed with explosives is said to have driven into a 12ft concrete blast-wall surrounding the Palestine and another hotel, the Sheraton.

A car, also carrying a bomb, stationed near the truck exploded almost simultaneously. About two minutes later, a third bomb followed, behind the 14th Ramadan mosque in front of the square. Unconfirmed reports said that a number of rockets had also been fired into the area.

The blasts showered debris over the surrounding district. A black cloud of dust spread over the city centre late in the afternoon as local people were preparing for ifthar, the breaking of the Ramadan fast.

US and Iraqi forces rushed reinforcements to the hotels which are used as head offices for the American television network Fox News, Associated Press and the US-funded Alhurra television station. Other news organizations, including the BBC and Reuters, have bases nearby.

The bombs were followed by sustained gunfire. Iraqi police said they had come under sniper attack, but witnesses claimed police opened up with heavy weaponry at random in the aftermath of the bombings.

The blasts shattered windows at the Palestine and caused extensive damage inside. At least six people were injured inside the hotel, and, according to news agencies, a number of photographers were among the casualties outside. A US Army Bradley armoured car was damaged but the Pentagon stated that there had been no American casualties.

Mouwafak al-Rubaei, the national security adviser to the Iraqi government, declared that the attack was a “well-planned and very clear effort” to take over the hotel and take hostages.

“Three cars came from three different roads in succession to create security breaches for the terrorists. They were armed with RPGs and light arms,” he said. “The plan was very clear to us, which was to take security control over the two hotels, and to take the foreign and Arab journalists as hostages to use them as a bargain.”

Captain Abdul Mohammed Ghani of the police said: “We have had a lot of casualties.” The Deputy Interior Minister, Hussein Kamal, added: “There are four or five Iraqi police among the dead, but civilians have been killed as well.”

Ahmed Safaa Hamid, who witnessed the blasts, said: “They were very, very big, one after the other. There was a lot of rifle fire as well, everywhere. The ambulances took a lot of bodies away. There was blood and glass and metal everywhere and many people injured, shouting and crying.”

Violence continued elsewhere in Iraq, resulting in 24 deaths. Twelve construction workers were killed near Mussayib, 40 miles south of Baghdad, and police found six bodies, three women and three men, in the town of Iskandariyah. A US Marine was killed in Ramadi, bringing the toll of American soldiers killed in combat operations since the invasion to 1,994.

 

Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
Jeiddy Martínez Armas
Firearm Democracy
Jill Richardson
Washington’s War on Poor Grad Students
Ralph Nader
The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law
Justin O'Hagan
Capitalism Equals Peace?
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: From the Red Sea to Nairobi
Geoff Dutton
The Company We Sadly Keep
Evan Jones
The Censorship of Jacques Sapir, French Dissident
Linn Washington Jr.
Meek Moment Triggers Demands for Justice Reform
Gerry Brown
TPP, Indo Pacific, QUAD: What’s Next to Contain China’s Rise?
Robert Fisk
The Exile of Saad Hariri
Romana Rubeo - Ramzy Baroud
Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionist Hasbara is Winning in Italy
Robert J. Burrowes
Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
Chuck Collins
Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ From Corporate Tax Cuts
Ron Jacobs
Private Property Does Not Equal Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Mass Shootings, Male Toxicity and their Roots in Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
The Fordist Academic
Frank Scott
Weapons of Mass Distraction Get More Destructive
Missy Comley Beattie
Big Dick Diplomacy
Michael Doliner
Democracy, Real Life Acting and the Movies
Dan Bacher
Jerry Brown tells indigenous protesters in Bonn, ‘Let’s put you in the ground’
Winslow Myers
The Madness of Deterrence
Cesar Chelala
A Kiss is Not a Kiss: Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children
Jimmy Centeno
Garcia Meets Guayasamin: A De-Colonial Experience
Stephen Martin
When Boot Becomes Bot: Surplus Population and The Human Face.
Martin Billheimer
Homer’s Iliad, la primera nota roja
Louis Proyect
Once There Were Strong Men
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones
David Yearsley
Academics Take Flight
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail