22.12.06

Palestinians have become targets in Iraq's chaos

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 12/21/2006 | Palestinians have become targets in Iraq's chaos:

For half an hour last week, mortar rounds rained down on Baghdad's largest Palestinian enclave. Neither Iraqi police at a station nearby nor U.S. troops at a base adjacent to the neighborhood responded.

At the end of the attack, the Palestinians counted their losses: six dead and 29 injured, including a repairman next to the compound's generator, two neighborhood boys with their heads and stomachs split open in the billiards hall, and the bean-seller beside his pushcart who screamed 'Save me!' before he died.

Most heartbreaking, survivors said, were the corpses of 14-year-old Noura Mohamed, who was decapitated while standing in her garden, and 13-year-old A'isha Ahmed, who was hit by the last mortar of the evening as she stood on a balcony to check on her brother and father as they helped the wounded.

It was the bloodiest assault so far in what has become a long stream of attacks on Palestinians, whose community has been here since the establishment of Israel in 1948 but who've never been granted Iraqi citizenship.

The United Nations refugee agency condemned the barrage, which it blamed on Shiite Muslim militiamen of the Mahdi Army, and blasted U.S. and Iraqi troops for failing to protect the Palestinians.

Iraqi officials shrugged off the incident, saying everyone in Iraq is a target and that Palestinians should approach the Iraqi interior ministry - which is widely infiltrated by Shiite militias - instead of complaining to aid agencies.

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