A suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest outside a police academy in central Baghdad Thursday, killing 13 in the latest brutal attack on Iraq's beleaguered security forces.
The attacker triggered his bomb amid a crowd of cadets arriving near the Iraqi police academy off Palestine Street in the heart of Baghdad, interior ministry operations chief Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf said.
Medics at the city's Kindi hospital said that 10 people were killed on the spot and three more died later of their injuries. Another 12 people were wounded, a hospital official said.
"Sectarian violence is getting worse," Ambassador Mukhtar Lamani, the Arab League representative in Baghdad, said.
"According to our information, there were 250 political murders last week, including five tribal sheikhs who came to last week's reconciliation conference ... there are 200 armed groups, each with their own agenda," he added.
On Thursday, a car bomb and mortar attack killed four Iraqis in western Baghdad, including two women out shopping, a security source said.
In the volatile northern city of Kirkuk, a local police chief escaped an assassination attempt while gunmen shot dead a civilian in the same area.
In the wake of such dreadful news, it is hard to maintain an ongoing faith in the value of a continued presence in Iraq, and those who continue to believe the sacrifices to not have been in vain, must hold on to this belief in the teeth of a storm of protests from our fellow citizens. The socialists wail about the war's financial costs, attesting that we cannot climb out of such debt. Tribalists grind their fangs at the thought of good US men and women dying to save "others". Well-meaning folk wish that bad guys would just go away, as if evil could melt like winter snow. And cynical partisans use Iraq as a sick kind of chessboard, with the suffering Iraqi people reduced to mere pawns in a battle for political leverage back home.
Well, I still have faith in the Iraqi people, that they want for themselves what I wish they could have: liberty. I take as my evidence, that despite years of peril there were still cadets enrolling at the police academy. That sheikhs even attempted a reconciliation conference. That free citizens still try to shop in the marketplace. Even grim stories such as the one linked above, may contain seeds of hope, that sufficient Iraqis also believe in a universal liberty.
"The Iraqi masses are not ready for democracy", goes the cry. Who is, these days? Who among us are readily capable of the long-term vision, the mutual trust, the self-discipline, the spirit of self-sacrifice, acceptance of responsibility, and sense of teamwork, that must be heartfelt in order for democracy to succeed?
Fortunately for our side, our Iraqi brothers and sisters have the best teachers in the world at their disposal, from whom to learn these values: the United States military.
Those of us who are too old to enlist, can still find ways to serve, as every single one of us has a talent, skill, or trade whose weight can be added to the side of good in this fight.
This modest video, I hope, may be one such contribution.