WHILE British troops are sheltering in their heavily protected barracks, the puppet army and police forces that they have trained in Basra are running amok killing people in sectarian attacks on mosques and people’s homes.
Basra Deputy Governor Aminah Ghadban said on Sunday that the Saturday night reactions to the Basra car bombing left many people killed or wounded among the residents of Basra.
At a news conference held in Baghdad on Sunday, Ghadban said that National Guard members and Iraqi policemen raided the Al-Arab and Bin-Id mosques in Old Basra and opened fire using different types of weapons.
The attack claimed the lives of several guards of the two mosques and caused damage.
Ghadban said: ‘News agencies yesterday reported that a booby-trapped car exploded in the Basra old market, killing a number of innocent citizens who have nothing to do with what is happening.
‘We were surprised at the hideous reactions by the army and police forces who attacked some of our mosques.
‘This is despite the fact that Basra residents are innocent of any action that would claim innocent lives of our people.
At 2300 (2000 gmt), the army and police forces raided the Al-Arab Mosque near the old market.
‘These forces used light, medium-calibre and heavy weapons.
‘The attack continued until 0300 this morning. The attack left seven people dead in the sanctuary of the mosque and its square.
‘Nine mosque guards are missing or detained. The killing took place in the manner of execution, not during clashes.
‘The Ibn Id Mosque was raided in the Al-Safat area in the Old City in Basra earlier, before the first incident occurred.
‘The mosque was ransacked and two of the mosque guards were detained.
‘We tell our people in Basra: “O ye who believe. Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah, that ye may prosper”.’
Iraqi Sunni officials in Basra confirmed that the police and army stormed the mosques following the market blast.
Yusuf al-Hasan, head of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Basra, said that police support forces in the city arrested a number of worshippers after storming Ibn-Id Mosque in central Basra.
Al-Hasan said: ‘First of all, we condemn what happened in a popular market in central Basra.
‘This is undoubtedly a criminal act which targeted innocent and defenceless people.
‘This attack claimed the lives of scores of our sons and brothers who do not only belong to a particular sect but also belong to this country and this governorate.
‘However, following the sunset prayer, we saw groups wearing the Iraqi police uniform storming Ibn-Id Mosque and chanting sectarian slogans, calling for revenge in the wake of that criminal bombing that targeted the popular market.
‘These groups, accompanied by civilian forces, ransacked the contents of the libraries.
‘They also threatened some worshippers and told them to leave the place. This was undoubtedly done by some people to indicate that they wanted to take revenge for that bombing through targeting mosques.
‘Shia and Sunni mosques in Basra are a symbol of unity. These mosques call for containing this critical situation which Basra and its people are witnessing.’
‘The Sunni Waqf Office in Iraq has said that the Iraqi Police killed 12 defenceless worshippers in Al-Arab Mosque in Basra yesterday.
‘Meanwhile, the Police said that they were chasing armed men who entered the mosque.
‘The clashes took place in the old city of Basra and lasted for more than an hour.
‘The Police and Army forces used mortars in shelling the mosque.’
Shaykh Adnan al-Ghanim, head of the People of Iraq Conference in Basra elicited his remarks on the incident. Zahr al-Din asked Al-Ghanim to comment on the incidents in Basra.
Al-Ghanim said: ‘On Saturday night, a terrorist incident took place in a popular market in Basra, and targeted innocent people from the sons of Basra.
‘The attack did not distinguish between Sunnis and Shias, but targeted all citizens.’
Al-Ghanim added: ‘Forces from the Police and National Guard stormed Ibn-Id Mosque, desecrated the Holy Koran and humiliated worshippers. At midnight, these forces also raided Al-Arab Mosque and killed 16 guards.’
Al-Ghanim went on to say that these forces raided some houses and arrested scores of Sunnis based on their identities, adding that they killed the parents of the ‘martyrs’ while going to hospitals to see their ‘martyred’ sons.
Al-Ghanim noted the governmental authorities in the city and the governorate did not show any sort of cooperation in this regard.
Concluding, Al-Ghanim said: ‘All Sunnis and people of Basra urge the UN, humanitarian organisations, and the kings and heads of Arab and Muslim states to intervene to solve this tragic situation in Basra.’
Meanwhile a total of 18 persons, including 12 policemen, were wounded in angry demonstrations staged by hundreds of people today in the city of Al-Samawah, the centre of Al-Muthanna Governorate in the south of Baghdad.
The protest was against the deterioration of services in their city.
News reports said the demonstrators gathered in front of the governorate building and called for the resignation of Governor Muhammad Ali al-Hasani due to shortage in fuel, potable water, electricity, and services.
They then pelted the building of the Military Intelligence Department with stones and empty bottles.
The police forces and national guards opened fire to disperse the demonstrators, wounding six of them.
The demonstrators later headed to the Oil Products Department, damaged doors, shattered windows, and set old tyres on fire.
The protestors later besieged the premise of Al-Muthanna Water Directorate, shattered windows and destroyed the facade of the building.
One demonstrator said that the demonstration aimed to express resentment about the severe shortage in potable water, fuel, electricity, and other services.
Al-Samawah had witnessed last year large-scale clashes between policemen on the one hand, and farmers and working people on the other to protest against the officials’ breaking of promises to provide irrigation water, potable water, and electricity, as well as against the rising unemployment rates in the governorate.