WaPo/AP report what seems to be a rather significant escalation in guerilla activity in Iraq:
Car bombers struck the international Red Cross headquarters and four police stations across Baghdad on Monday, killing about 40 people in a spree of destruction that terrorized the Iraqi capital on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to police and Red Cross reports.
The Red Cross said 12 were killed there, and police said 27 were killed in the police station bombings, most of them Iraqis. The U.S. military confirmed that among the dead was one American soldier killed at a Baghdad police station.
The bombings came hours after clashes in the Baghdad area killed three U.S. soldiers overnight, and a day after insurgents devastated a hotel full of U.S. occupation officials with a rocket barrage, killing a U.S. colonel and wounding 18 other people. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in the hotel, but was unhurt.
It was two days of violence unprecedented in this city of 5 million people since the end of the U.S.-Iraq war last April, attacks aimed at the American-led occupation and those perceived as working with it.
It’ll be interesting to see whether all these attacks are coordinated or if their temporal proximity is mere coincidence. I’d also like to know more about the security level at the Red Cross headquarters. Often, relief agencies are reluctant to associate themselves too closely with military forces, for rather obvious reasons. But they do make a soft target if they’re not being protected.
What truly surprises me is the attack on Wolfowitz’ hotel. Since his presence in Baghdad was common knowledge and his staying in that particular hotel was apparently quite predictable, one would think that a rather wide security perimeter would have been in place. I can understand a rocket being fired even under that circumstance, but one would think return fire would have been immediate.