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(Fwd) [casi] Saddams men kill 40 in mosque fight

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I have doubts about the veracity of this report. Can anyone comment please.
Tony Maturin.
------- Forwarded message follows -------
From: "Yasser Alaskary" <>
Date sent: Tue, 28 May 2002 16:00:07 +0000
Subject: [casi] Saddams men kill 40 in mosque fight

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 The Sunday Times - World

May 26, 2002

Saddams men kill 40 in mosque fight
Marie Colvin

IRAQIS worshipping at one of Islams holiest shrines were attacked by
Saddam Husseins security forces earlier this month in one of the
worst recent examples of the oppression suffered daily by civilians
living under his regime.

While international attention remains largely focused on Saddams
chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes, which threaten
those outside his borders, little is known of the suffering of his
population because the Iraqi president controls the countrys media
with his characteristic iron grip.

However, news of his forces onslaught against worshippers at the
shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, which left up to 40 people dead,
has filtered out because some survivors escaped to the relative
freedom of Kurdistan, the no-fly zone patrolled by American and
British planes in northern Iraq.

The attack happened on the anniversary of the death of Hussein, the
grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Hussein was
killed in the city of Karbala in the 7th century with 72 of his
followers. He is particularly revered by followers of the Shiite
branch of Islam, who mark the anniversary with mourning rites that
include beating themselves publicly to show their sorrow.

Thousands of Iraqis travel each year to the blue-tiled mosque in
Karbala, where Hussein is buried. This year, security forces were out
in strength as worshippers converged on the city, which Iraqi
observers believe is a sign of Saddams increasing worry about his
restive Shiite population.

Saddam and his regime are Sunni, the minority branch of Islam in Iraq.
In 1991, after Iraqs defeat in the Gulf war, the Shiite Muslims, who
predominate in the south, led a revolt that was brutally crushed by
the Republican Guard.

Abu Fadi, whose full name is being withheld for fear of reprisals
against his family, said by satellite telephone from Kurdistan that
the security forces had made the journey to Karbala difficult before
the violence at the mosque. Other Iraqi sources independently
confirmed the events he described.

He left his neighbourhood of Baghdad, a poor, largely Shiite area, at
6am with his two sons, aged seven and five, and joined other men packed into a
private minibus that was to travel to Karbala.

The bus was twice stopped at checkpoints manned by a mixture of
regular soldiers, members of the ruling Baath party in their
distinctive uniform and plainclothes security officials. Everyone in
the bus was searched, as were others in the flood of vehicles heading
south to Karbala, a journey that usually takes about an hour.

Abu Fadi and his sons got as far as Aoun, seven miles short of
Karbala, when they reached a barricade made with barrels and a long
pole. It was manned by security forces, who barred the vehicles and
told passengers they would continue at their own risk.

I thought maybe I should turn back, because I had my two young sons
with me, Abu Fadi said. But we had already travelled so far, and I
wanted to touch the shrine of Imam Hussein, so I said, Let us
continue walking. Thousands of people did the same. The road was very

After little more than half a mile, the road became difficult to walk
upon  security forces had spread a thick layer of sand sprayed with
water. Military vehicles drove by on the edge of the road, but did not
turn people back.

Abu Fadi and his sons finally reached the mosque at 1pm, after
stopping to rest several times. As he neared the shrine, he grew
frightened. Inside the mosque, soldiers were stationed with guns, a
sacrilege that angered many in the crowd. When young men began beating
their chests as a sign of the emotion they felt at nearing the burial
place of Hussein, the soldiers attacked.

They began beating the people with the butts of their Kalashnikovs
and megwaor (sticks with nails embedded at the end), Abu Fadi said.
Everyone panicked. It seemed to me there was blood everywhere 
screams and blood.

He said he managed to crouch in an alcove where men leave their shoes
when they enter the mosque. He saw at least seven people who he
believes had been killed.

One young man looked like he was sitting with his back to the wall
but you could tell he was dead, said Abu Fadi, whose shocked sons
escaped with him. His head was bloodied and his eyes were staring
open. He was not breathing.

Not a word of the incident was officially reported, but several
sources in Karbala and Baghdad put the death toll at 40, based on
reports from the hospitals in the city.

The whole country has to celebrate the birthday of Saddam Hussein
whether we want to or not, said Abu Fadi. Why should I be prohibited
from celebrating the death of my Imam Hussein, this holy man?

Iraqi sources said hit-and-run attacks on Saddams forces in the south
had now increased to the point where even heavily armed Iraqi military
convoys had stopped travelling at night. Opposition groups such as the
Iraqi National Congress are working in exile to unseat Saddam.
However, they believe that the population will need a firm sign of American
military support before risking a general revolt.

 [end of article]

 if anyone can get today's sunday times, it has some interesting
 photos showing armed soldiers around imam husein's shrine.


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