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Deadly Day in Iraq

A reporter in Baghdad discusses the latest wave of deadly attacks in Iraq that killed more than 50 Iraqis Wednesday.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    The Iraq story. Our report comes from Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times in Baghdad. Jeffrey Brown talked to him by phone earlier this evening.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Borzou, the largest death toll came from a bombing during a Shiite funeral. Do officials there have clues into who did it and why that was a target?

  • BORZOU DARAGAHI:

    No one is sure who did it. There's been no claim of responsibility. I guess the target was the nephew of a Shiite politician who was the victim of an assassination attempt the night before. The nephew was acting as a body guard to the Shiite politician who was wounded in the incident.

    The nephew was killed. And so it might have something to do with the sectarian tensions that are overlaying many of the problems in Iraq right now. This Shiite politician was a leading local member of the Dawa Party, which is one of the main parties in the Shiite coalition now dominating the government.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Among the other attacks was one on an oil convoy heading towards Baghdad. Again, why that kind of a target?

  • BORZOU DARAGAHI:

    The insurgents definitely have a strategy of sabotaging and targeting Iraq's energy and water and electricity infrastructure. It's an attempt to destabilize the Baghdad government. And it's working. There's a lot of discontent in the country. There's a lot of discontent in Baghdad because of the lack of electricity, the lack of gasoline, the lack of basic services. And it definitely disrupts and destabilizes the central government.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Now, you just referred to sectarian tensions. Do officials see these last few very bloody days as the beginning of a new wave of violence?

  • BORZOU DARAGAHI:

    In their public statements officials tend to make very strident, very chauvinistic statements about how they're fighting the terrorists and defeating the terrorists. But privately, yes, they're definitely worried about how this is turning out. They don't want a repeat of what happened in January in which the good will that was produced by the Jan. 30 elections was squandered over months of violence and political squabbling.

    And I think that that might be the impetus to getting the political parties who won large blocks of seats in the elections last month to coalesce and form a government sooner rather than later.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Now, in a piece, in a report that we got from ITN, there were citizens who were expressing anger at the government for not being able to protect them from these kinds of acts of violence. Do you hear that in talking to people?

  • BORZOU DARAGAHI:

    Absolutely, I think there's a lot of discontent about the security forces' inability to prevent these kinds of attacks from happening.

    On the other hand, this is an attack on a funeral. So, if someone is willing to engage in that kind of violence, there's very little that security forces can do to prevent it. They've tried sealing off the borders. They've tried, basically, raiding villages where they expect insurgents are being — are using them as havens. So there's very little they can do.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Now, on the political situation that you just raised, officials there have been saying that it will be at least another couple of weeks before the final vote tally is in. Why is it taking so long?

  • BORZOU DARAGAHI:

    Part of it is that there's been a lot of disputes about the ballots. But I think more fundamentally what's happening is that the parties that were victorious in the elections are going ahead and forming a government. They've started talks already, regardless of whether the election commission has been able to certify those votes.

    They've already begun the process of creating blocs. They've been talking about political programs. They haven't gotten to the level of talking about who gets which ministerial posts but they've begun the hard bargaining that will create a government.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And do you see in talking to these different parties, do you see progress being made toward that end?

  • BORZOU DARAGAHI:

    Definitely there is a sort of an alliance developing between the dominant Shiite block, the Kurds, that's the Kurdish north, the Kurds who are up in the autonomous Kurdish area, and some of the Sunnis are being brought in as a sort of junior partner. The Sunni accord front, or consensus front as some translate it, they're being brought into this partnership, this big, huge alliance between the Kurds and the Shiites.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    All right. Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times, thanks very much.

  • BORZOU DARAGAHI:

    It's been a pleasure, thank you.

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