BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — Saboteurs brought a trainload of U.S. Army supplies to a fiery halt west of Baghdad yesterday, as a Ramadan campaign of terror bombs and escalating attacks spurred a new Iraq pullout by international aid groups.
An explosion rocked a row of shops in Baghdad’s Old City late yesterday, killing two people, according to police, and deepening the unease in the Iraqi capital.
Many Baghdad parents apparently were keeping their children home from school out of fear of further bombings like the four that killed three dozen people and wounded more than 200 across the capital on Monday, start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“We heard rumors about big bombs that will go off,” said Duha Khalid, 18, most of whose friends stayed home yesterday from her girls’ high school, situated near a police station.
The police, prime targets in the bombings Monday, were targeted again yesterday, when officers intercepted a motorist who tried to toss a hand grenade into a police station on the edge of Baghdad’s heavily guarded “green zone,” the headquarters enclave for the U.S. occupation.
As October’s heat finally gave way to cooling winds off the desert, rumors of looming trouble spread through this city of 5 million, focusing on the start of the week — Saturday in Muslim Iraq.
One leaflet on the streets, purporting to be from Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, called for a general strike Saturday through Monday “to prove to our enemy that we are united people.”
The plainly typed flyer will further feed the debate over the identity of the shadowy underground of bombers striking Iraqi cities and ambush teams harassing U.S. forces: Are they die-hard Baathists, other anti-U.S. nationalists, foreign Islamic fighters, or some combination?
The identity of those swarming over the sabotaged train yesterday was clear: they were Iraqis from the Fallujah area, 35 miles west of Baghdad, who fell upon the crippled train to loot it of computers, tents, bottled water and other Army supplies.
The goods had been bound for the town of Haditha, 100 miles up the Euphrates River from Fallujah, when a makeshift bomb exploded along the tracks four miles west of Fallujah. As the uninjured engineer fled, four shipping containers on flatcars went up in flames, and more than 200 area residents descended on the other cars to make off with whatever they could carry.
No U.S. forces came to the scene, but at one point the looters scattered when two American helicopters whirred in for a look. At another point, Iraqis backed trucks up to the bombed train to offload goods.