The Other Attack
Although much of the blogospheric attention is being concentrated on the Green Zone attack in Baghdad today, there was another attack, too:
BAGHDAD – A suicide truck bomb exploded on a major bridge in Baghdad early Thursday, collapsing the steel structure and sending cars tumbling into the Tigris River below, police and witnesses said. At least 10 people were killed.
Hospital officials said another 26 were injured, and police were trying to rescue as many as 20 people whose cars plummeted off the al-Sarafiya bridge.
Waves lapped against twisted girders, as patrol boats searched for survivors while U.S. helicopters whirred overhead. Scuba divers donned flippers and waded in from the riverbanks.
Farhan al-Sudani, a 34-year-old Shiite businessman who lives near the bridge, said the blast woke him at dawn.
“A huge explosion shook our house and I thought it would demolish our house. Me and my wife jumped immediately from our bed, grabbed our three kids and took them outside,” he said.
The al-Sarafiya bridge connected two northern Baghdad neighborhoods — Waziriyah, a mostly Sunni enclave, and Utafiyah, a Shiite area.
Police blamed the attack on a suicide truck bomber, but Associated Press Television News footage showed the bridge broken apart in two places — perhaps the result of two blasts.
The bridge attack is a systemic attempt to change how people are able to interact and conduct the thousands of interactions that allow a modern city to be a functioning place. Two neighborhoods are now significantly disconnected and the diverted traffic that would typically go over this destroyed bridge will either not go across the river, or increase congestion and decrease efficiency at the other Tigris River crossings. The intention of the attack may have been to only generate casualties, or to reduce a neighborhood’s vulnerability to sectarian fighting, but the end result will be a decrease in the organizational complexity of Baghdad and a continued reversion to primary loyalties.
The news report cited above notes the morale implications—the bridge is of historic signficance. I think that the attack has tactical implications, too.
The Green Zone and U. S. military headquarters are on the west side of the river, much of the operations conducted by the Iraqi and U. S. military are on the east. In particular, there’s been considerable activity in the al-Adhamiya neighborhood. The loss of the al-Sarafiya bridge may concentrate traffic onto the next more northerly bridge.
Cross-posted from The Glittering Eye.