Attacks in Iraq May Be Signals of New Tactics
By JOHN TIERNEY and ROBERT F. WORTH
New York Times
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 17 In a turbulent 12-hour stretch, a pipeline supplying much of Baghdad's water was blown up this weekend, a huge new fire was set off along an oil pipeline, and a mortar attack on a prison left 6 Iraqis dead and 59 wounded.
The attacks raised new concerns that the insurgents who have been singling out American soldiers may be widening their strikes to include civilian targets and economic sabotage. The explosion at the water pipeline was the work of saboteurs, investigators said, and the fire along the pipeline appeared suspicious as well.
It occurred near the spot in northern Iraq where saboteurs on Friday blew up another part of the pipeline, which carries Iraqi oil into Turkey.
The mortar attack occurred shortly before midnight Saturday at Abu Ghraib, a prison that became notorious during Saddam Hussein's rule for its terrible conditions and for the torture and execution of political prisoners. Some of its current prisoners are suspected of being part of the violent insurgency against American forces by members of the former government. Shortly before midnight, three mortar shells were fired into the prison compound, where inmates were being held in tents.
At the prison this afternoon, a Reuters cameraman identified as Mazen Dana was shot and killed by a soldier, a spokesman for the occupation said. Reuters reported that Mr. Dana, 43, a Palestinian, had been filming outside the prison when he was shot by a G.I. in a tank.
Officials said the motives for the mortar attack on the prison Saturday were unknown, as was the identity of the attacker. But they suggested that the shelling, like the sabotage of pipelines, might be part of the larger effort to destabilize Iraq and drive out Americans. Samir Shakir Mahmoud Sumaidy, a member of the new Iraqi interim government, the Governing Council, condemned the attack after visiting some of the victims who had been taken to an American military hospital.
"Attacking prisoners is just unexplainable and completely incomprehensible," he said. "The only deduction I have is that these attackers have lost their way. They have no strategy. They just want to create mayhem, create chaos.
"This will certainly not hasten the departure of coalition forces. In fact, it will probably increase the time of their staying here," he said.
The sabotage of the water pipeline was the first such strike against Baghdad's water system, city water engineers said. It happened around 7 this morning, when a blue Volkswagen Passat stopped on an overpass near the Nidaa mosque and an explosive was fired at the six-foot-wide water main in the northern part of Baghdad, said Hayder Muhammad, the chief engineer for the city's water treatment plants.
Instantly, jets of high-pressure water shot into the air and began flooding the roadway below, which links Palestine Street to the Adhamiya neighborhood. The break left residents with little or no water most of the day in about 10 neighborhoods covering a large part of the city.
Water continued to pour from the jagged two-foot-wide hole in the main this afternoon, and hundreds of children and young men were swimming and splashing.
"Most of the area will be without water, and now people will start saying the Americans did this," said a bystander, Hissan Baghdadi, 35. "But it has nothing to do with the Americans at all. It was Iraqis who did this."
The deputy mayor of Baghdad, Faris Abdul Razaq al-Aasam, said workers expected to restore water by late this evening. City engineers warned that there could be some problems for several days.
As the fire at the oil pipeline burned this afternoon in northern Iraq, sending black smoke nearly three miles high northwest of Mosul, occupation officials in Baghdad noted that they had recently signed a contract with a private firm to hire 6,500 guards for Iraq's oil facilities. After the pipeline was shut down Friday by an explosion and fire, officials said that it would take perhaps two weeks to repair the damage and that the loss of the pipeline was costing Iraq $7 million per day.
In southern Iraq, a Danish soldier and two Iraqis were killed in a firefight Saturday night about 30 miles north of Basra, Danish military officials said. It was the first military casualty for the Danish.
The firefight broke out in the town of Medina when a Danish patrol tried to prevent Iraqis from stealing electrical cables, said Lt. Col. Jens Kofoed, a Danish military spokesman. Two Iraqis were killed along with the soldier, Lance Cpl. Preben Pedersen, Colonel Kofoed said.
The incident is being investigated, and it is possible that Lance Cpl. Pedersen
was killed accidentally by one of his fellow officers, Colonel Kofoed said.