Suicide bombers will reach polling stations in Iraq´s election-day battle, admits general (TELEGRAPH UK) By Toby Harnden in Baghdad 01/30/05)
DAILY TELEGRAPH Articles-Index-Top
General John Abizaid, America´s senior military commander in the
Middle East, has admitted that suicide bombers are likely to
penetrate polling stations during today´s Iraqi elections, despite
unprecedented security measures.
Even as President George W Bush predicted that "the courage of the
Iraqi people will allow the vote to take place", his top officer for
the region warned: "Undoubtedly, insurgents are going to attack
polling sites with suicide belts wrapped around them."
Gen Abizaid told an American newspaper that in the four Iraqi
provinces dominated by Sunni Muslims, where the insurgency is
strongest, the election-day battle "will be tough and it will be
difficult and it will be bloody." Yesterday, insurgents seeking to
disrupt Iraq´s first free elections for 51 years launched a string of
attacks that claimed at least 18 lives.
In one incident, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a joint US-
Iraqi security centre in the town of Khanaqin, north-east of Baghdad,
killing three Iraqi soldiers and five civilians.
Mr Bush declared in his weekly radio address: "In the face of this
intimidation, the Iraqi people are standing firm. Tomorrow´s
elections will happen because of their courage and determination. All
throughout Iraq, these friends of freedom understand the stakes."
Ayad Allawi, Iraq´s interim prime minister, urged his fellow
countrymen to defy the insurgents "trying to break us and to break
our world". He pleaded: "They should take part because this is the
future in the making, and people have to take their fate in their own
hands and decide for themselves what kind of future they want."
Not all Iraq´s politicians were optimistic. The country´s president,
Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni Arab in the interim government, told
reporters: "What we hope is that most Iraqis will take part in the
election but we know that the majority will not because of the
security situation." Later he amended his comments, saying that he
believed that two-thirds of the country´s 14 million eligible voters
would take part.
More than 400 Iraqis have been killed in the past month, almost all
as the result of attacks launched by insurgents opposed to the
continuing presence of the US-led military forces that toppled Saddam
Hussein from power 21 months ago.
Another senior US military officer in Baghdad predicted that the
insurgency - which has been fuelled by small groups of hardened Arab
fighters from neighbouring countries - would last at least a decade
and could not be defeated by American troops alone.
The officer told The Telegraph: "Iraqis are the ones who will have to
defeat the insurgency, not multi-national forces. It is not
necessarily a growing insurgency but it is a resilient one." (©
Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004. 01/30/05)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY