David Axe photo.
by DAVID AXE
On the morning of January 27, 2005, I stood in a local government building in Baqubah, north-central Iraq, my camera at the ready, waiting for a U.S. Army-led amnesty event to kick off. The Army had asked local residents to bring in any weapons, no questions asked. Some very nervous Iraqi officials smoked cigarettes on a row of folding chairs. David Pratt, an experienced war correspondent for the Sunday Herald newspaper, commented on the potential risk in the Americans advertising their presence in one of the bloodiest cities in all of Iraq.
There was an explosion. Windows shattered. Iraqis dove for cover. American troops raced to their Humvees parked outside. Gunfire echoed off alleyways. “Here we go,” Pratt said. I jumped into a Humvee and we sped out onto the street … and into a Hellish scene. A suicide bomber in a compact car had blown himself up in traffic. Cars were shattered. Cops, soldiers and reporters swarmed. Iraqi army troops fired their weapons into the air. There were body parts on the ground (pictured above being collected by soldiers) and streaks of blood leading to nearby buildings.
“Welcome to Baqubah,” a soldier said, grinning. In the chaos, it wasn’t clear who had attacked whom and who had been hurt. Now, thanks to Wikileaks’ recent dump of thousands of classified U.S. Iraq-war records, I know a little bit more:
AT 1135C, THE BAQUBAH JCC REPORTED A VBIED DETONATED NEAR , ___ WEST OF THE BLUE DOME AT THE INTERSECTION OF RTE ___ AND ROUTE . ___ DETONATED ON THE LAST VEHICLE OF AN IA CONVOY AT THE INTERSECTION. 2X IP WIA, 5X CIVILIAN INJ, 1X IA KIA, AND 1X EKIA (DRIVER) RESULTED FROM THE DETONATION. THE CASUALTIES WERE ___ TO THE BAQUBAH GENERAL HOSPITAL FOR TREATMENT.
Translated, that means the bomber targeted an Iraqi army convoy, hit the last vehicle, killed himself and one Iraqi soldier and wounded seven other people.
As with Wikileaks’ release of Afghan war records earlier this year, the Iraq release is, to quote Lawyers, Guns & Money, “a massive data dump bringing to light few unknowns but casting knowns in much sharper relief.” Some commentators have focused on the more precise death tolls cited in the reports; others have found new evidence of U.S. soldiers’ brutality. Paul McLeary at Ares even discovered a new mission for American troops: robot-recovery.
Me? I just wanted to know to whom all that blood belonged to, that awful day in Baqubah.