Wednesday, March 28, 2007



Officials: Policemen go on killing spree

Shiite militants and police enraged by massive truck bombings in the northwestern town of Tal Afar went on a revenge spree against Sunni residents there Wednesday, killing as many as 60 people, officials said....

Ali al-Talafari, a Sunni member of the local Turkomen Front Party, ... said more than 60 Sunnis had been killed, but a senior hospital official in Tal Afar put the death toll at 45, with four wounded.

The hospital official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns, said the victims were men between the ages of 15 and 60, and they were killed with a shot to the back of the head....

The violence came a day after two truck bombs shattered markets in the city, killing at least 63 people and wounding dozens in the second assault in four days....

You may recall that President Bush, in a speech last March, went on at great length about how much better conditions were in Tal Afar, largely as the result of a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation. The name? Operation Restoring Rights.

...I'm going to tell you the story of a northern Iraqi city called Tal Afar, which was once a key base of operations for al Qaeda and is today a free city that gives reason for hope for a free Iraq.

... One of the biggest complaints was the police force, which rarely ventured out of its headquarters. When it did venture, it was mostly to carry out sectarian reprisals. And so the national government sent out new leaders to head the force. The new leaders set about getting rid of the bad elements, and building a professional police force that all sides could have confidence in. We recognized it was important to listen to the representatives of Tal Afar's many ethnic and religious groups. It's an important part of helping to remove one of the leading sources of mistrust.

...After the main combat operations were over, ... we embedded coalition forces with the Iraqi police and with the army units patrolling Tal Afar to work with their Iraqi counterparts and to help them become more capable and more professional.

... by turning control of these cities over to capable Iraqi troops and police, we give Iraqis confidence that they can determine their own destiny ...

Here are your rights -- right in the back of the head.

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