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Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2007

Baghdad’s soccer celebrations turn into scenes of tragedy

July 26, 2007

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An Iraqi boy waves a toy pistol in central Baghdad after the country's national soccer team beat South Korea in the Asian Cup to reach the tournament's final. The celebrations Wednesday later turned to sorrow as a pair of suicide bombers targeted the fans, killing at least 50.

An Iraqi boy waves a toy pistol in central Baghdad after the country's national soccer team beat South Korea in the Asian Cup to reach the tournament's final. The celebrations Wednesday later turned to sorrow as a pair of suicide bombers targeted the fans, killing at least 50.

— The dream run of Iraq's national soccer team captivated an otherwise despairing nation. But even in its moment of joy - the Iraqis are in the Asian Cup finals for the first time ever - violence struck Wednesday.

Two suicide bombings killed at least 50 cheering, dancing, flag-waving Iraqis celebrating their national triumph. More than 130 other revelers were wounded.

The attacks bore the hallmarks of Sunni militants who have fueled the violence tearing at the fragile fabric of Iraq for nearly four years. But these bombings, in parked cars less than an hour apart in separate corners of Baghdad, appeared designed to gain attention rather than target a particular sect.

An ice cream parlor was the backdrop for the first attack, about 6:30 p.m. A suicide attacker exploded his car in a crowd of people cheering near the al-Riwad shop in the predominantly Sunni Mansour neighborhood in west Baghdad, according to the Interior Ministry. At least 30 people were killed and 75 wounded, the ministry said.

The second suicide car bombing took place in the midst of dozens of vehicles filled with revelers near an Iraqi army checkpoint in the eastern district of Ghadeer, where an uneasy mix of Sunnis, Shiites and Christians live. At least 20 people died and nearly 60 were wounded, the ministry said.

The barbarity of Wednesday's bombings will be remembered for what they abruptly ended.

Ahmed Sattar, who makes a living selling kebabs on a sidewalk grill in the district, asked what could motivate the attacker.

"I can't imagine what I had seen," said the 28-year-old Shiite. "The terrorist changed the happiness to sorrow, sadness. The place of joy was converted to a massacre in a matter of seconds. I'm wondering why."

The revelers were celebrating Iraq's semifinal win over South Korea in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. Iraq won a tense penalty shootout 4-3 after the two sides played to a scoreless draw in 90 minutes regulation and 30 minutes extra time.

Iraq will now play Saudi Arabia on Sunday in Jakarta, Indonesia for the championship.

Comments

Linda Endicott 7 years, 4 months ago

It would seem, camper, that the political and religious reasons for violence in Iraq weren't phased by the comraderie of sports.

Although sports here aren't always peaceful, either. All you have to do is look at the riots and violence that are all too common after a championship game, be it baseball, basketball, football...and fans do this even when their team WINS...

camper 7 years, 4 months ago

This may mean way more than what we see on the surface. One glimmer of light and hope dashed by some idiotic sucide bomber(s). If sports can't bring people together, this is sad. Under the former regime, if you were a soccer player and you had a bad game, your life was in danger. This is troubling news. It is telling however...the US is not gonna solve the violence problem in Iraq. We just need to pull out and let them solve it for themselves.

Linda Endicott 7 years, 4 months ago

What did they expect?

There has been violence in Iraq, from one source or another, for generations. Did they really think a little thing like soccer was going to change that?

camper 7 years, 4 months ago

crazyks. I agree. Sometimes competitive sports can provide a healthy release that can be beneficial for society, bring communities together in a non-political way, that goes beyond differences. Sports is common and all people share it. It would have been great if Iraq can just take a time out and enjoy the success of their team. Play sports....not violence.

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