- Almost every house in Baghdad's poor al-Shula neighborhood had a
horror story to tell on Saturday after death rained from the night
The United States
said it was checking to see whether one of its missiles or bombs had
caused the shattering explosion that killed at least 62 people on Friday
evening in the heart of Baghdad.
To the traumatized
residents of the Shi'ite Muslim neighborhood, the conclusions of that
inquiry meant little.
At the house
of Sumaya Abed, the scene was one of devastation. She was delirious
and Mohammad are gone. My three boys are dead," a sobbing Abed
repeated over and over again.
To whom shall we turn in our sorrow? Oh God! To whom shall we address
our grief? We're just poor people who wanted to live in peace," said
Dozens of black-garbed
women relatives, friends and neighbors sat by her side, weeping and
trying to comfort her. But words could do little.
mother said Ali, 20, Hussein, 18, and Mohammad, 11, were killed by
pieces of shrapnel that cut though their chests and heads.
was born in the first war and he died in the second war. Oh my God!,"
she cried. She was pregnant with the 11-year-old during the 1991 Gulf
left for me to live for? My whole life has been destroyed. I nursed
them all my life and they're gone now."
It is some irony
that Iraq's Shi'ite majority is supposed to be one of beneficiaries
of the U.S. drive to overthrow President Saddam Hussein, a member of
the dominant Sunni Muslim minority.
Shacks at the
crowded neighborhood's tiny market were torn into pieces of shattered
wood and twisted metal. The smell from broken sewers mixed with the
odor of rotting fruit and charred human remains.
horror scenes of dismembered bodies littering the streets.
a big explosion and smoke. Nobody could see anything. People started
running in panic and screaming. Nobody could tell who had died and
who remained alive," said Karim Hmayed, 45, a merchant.
SORROW AND FURY
In another bereaved
household nearby, Arouba Khodeir, 39, was wailing hysterically and
hitting herself in the face and chest, as women around her were trying
to calm her down.
Her son Karar,
11, died outside the house with his friends.
had his head blown off," screamed Khodeir. "Why are they
hitting the people? Why are they killing the children? Why are they
doing his to us?
they attacking civilians? Didn't Bush say on TV that he won't attack
civilians. But these people who died are all civilians? Is this a target?" she
wailed, pointing at the dried blood of her son still splashed on the
In Shula, sorrow
at the loss of loved ones was mixed with fury at President Bush, who
has promised to limit the loss of innocent civilian life. But many
were also angry that Iraqi missile launchers and anti-aircraft guns
were apparently sited in their residential neighborhood.
story was told at the house of Hasna Shallum where women had gathered
to mourn the death of her 20-year-old daughter Shaza.
Shaza was holding
her baby and walking with two relatives when the explosion sent a shard
of shrapnel through her neck.
Fatma was found alive in her dead mother's arms and brought by neighbors
to her grandmother. The wails of the mourners drowned the cries of
the hungry infant.
most of those killed were so poor they had risked their lives to use
a lull in the U.S.-British strikes to set up their stalls to try to
make a living.
not want war. This war was imposed on us by force. We are poor people
who just want to live in peace," said one of the mourners, Hamdiya
Abbas, 45, whose three sons are soldiers.
of bodies and damage in Iraq have fueled Arab anger against the U.S.-led
invasion which Washington says is not aimed at ordinary Iraqis but
could further sap U.S. efforts to win Iraqi hearts and minds. At least
15 people died when a previous missile hit Baghdad's al-Shaab Shi'ite
district on Wednesday. The U.S. military said it was not clear who
Struck by the
worst civilian casualty toll so far, Shula residents voiced despair
and anger at the indifference of the world which they said has failed
to stop the carnage.
helpless people. It is all out of our hands. Why cannot the world find
said Zahra, 50. "The whole world is watching us die and is doing
nothing to help us."
THE IRAQI BODY COUNT DATABASE