Bloody Memorial Day In Iraq

Iraqis inspect the site where a car bomb exploded in central Baghdad 29 May 2006. At least 39 people were killed today in a bloody explosion of violence across Iraq, including a spate of bombings against buses carrying people to work.
Getty Images/Ahmad Al-Rubaye
Memorial Day is not on the Iraqi calendar, but May 29, 2006, will be remembered by many in Iraq, U.S., and Britain, for years to come.

At least 37 people were killed Monday in eight bombings – including a blast that took the lives of two CBS journalists and critically wounded a third – an increase in violence that one Iraqi lawmaker blames on continued discord within the national government.

CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier, cameraman Paul Douglas, and soundman James Brolan were doing what they thought would be a Memorial Day story on U.S. soldiers in Iraq when a bomb exploded just a few feet away in Baghdad.

Dozier was critically wounded and has been flown to a U.S. military hospital in Germany for further treatment; Douglas and Brolan died at the scene. The bomb also killed a U.S. soldier and an Iraqi translator, and injured six other U.S. soldiers.

The death of the U.S. soldier came as the United States marked Memorial Day. It brought to 2,467 the number of U.S. military members who have died since the war started in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The wave of car bombings – most of them in Baghdad - and other attacks swept both Sunni and Shiite areas of Iraq as the trial of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein moved through another day and Iraqi politicians continued the struggle over who should occupy key posts in the new national government.

"The deteriorating security situation is due to the fact that the interior and defense ministries are still unfilled posts," said Shiite legislator Baha al-Araji.

In other recent developments in Iraq:

  • Defense witnesses in the trial of Saddam Hussein argued Monday that a court which sentenced 148 Shiites to death following a 1980s assassination attempt on the former Iraqi leader was fair and gave the defendants a proper defense. Monday's session went without the numerous outbursts that have marred the court in the past. Saddam and seven former members of his regime are on trial on charges of crimes against humanity for killings, torture and the imprisonment of families during the crackdown launched after a 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the Shiite town of Dujail.
  • The mother of a Marine who saw the aftermath of an alleged American massacre in Iraq says her son is severely traumatized and is getting "little help." The father of another Marine says the same is true of his son. Both say their sons were told to photograph the scene in Haditha last November. Lance Corp. Roel Ryan Briones, 21, told the Los Angeles Times that the victims included "little babies to adult males and females." He said he'll never get those images out of his head. The Marines say two investigations into the alleged massacre are underway.
  • Brig. Gen. Sadiq Jaafar Salih, the director of the national ID card office, was shot to death in Diyala.
  • Ten people were killed, and another dozen were injured Monday, by a roadside bomb in Khalis that targeted a busload of Iraqis on their way to jobs at the Ashraf base camp of the Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK), a group of Iranians opposed the current regime in their homeland. All of the dead were workers at the camp.
  • A car bomb parked near Baghdad's main Sunni Abu Hanifa mosque Monday killed at least nine Iraqi civilians and wounded 25. The noontime explosion was so powerful it vaporized the vehicle.
  • A bomb planted in a parked minivan Monday killed at least seven people and injured at least 20 others when it blew up at the entrance to an open-air market selling second hand clothes in the northern Baghdad suburb of Kazimiyah.
  • Another parked car bomb exploded Monday near Ibn al-Haitham college in Azamiyah, in northern Baghdad, killing two civilians and wounding at least five others - including four Iraqi soldiers.
  • Police officers were targeted in at least three incidents Monday.
    A roadside bomb killed two police officers and wounded three others in downtown Baghdad's Karradah district. Two other police officers were shot to death in an attack on a convoy in western Baghdad. And in Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad, a group killed two other police officers, both of whom were identified as former Baathists – the political party of deposed ruler Saddam Hussein.
  • Late Monday, a mortar shell exploded at a Shiite mosque in southern Baghdad's Zafraniyah district. Shiite militiamen sealed off the area and prevented police from approaching, according to police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi.

    U.S. officials have expressed the hope that Iraqis will soon be able to take on more security duties, allowing American forces to begin pulling out.

    But more than a week after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's unity government took office, Iraq's ethnic, sectarian and secular parties are struggling to agree on who should run the crucial interior and defense ministries, which control the various Iraqi security forces.

    The Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry, which controls the police forces, has been promised to that community. Sunni Arabs are to get the defense ministry, overseeing the army.

    Those promises were made with the intention that the resulting balance of power between ethnic factions would enable al-Maliki to move ahead with a plan for Iraqis to take on all security duties over the next 18 months. He wants to try to attract army recruits from among the Sunni Arab minority, which provides the core of the insurgency.

    Nadira al-Ani, a member of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, called for the defense minister to be given more power.

    "I certainly hope that the defense minister will be a strong character ... to create a balance," she said during a round-table discussion between female Iraqi legislators and British human rights envoy Ann Clwyd in the heavily secured Green Zone.