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Ramadi Blast Details Diverge

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Posted on Feb 28, 2007

By Kasia Anderson

The proliferation of conflicting, even contradictory, media accounts of Tuesday’s explosion in Ramadi is reaching head-spinning proportions.  The mystery deepened Wednesday, a full day after the BBC and other news outlets originally reported that 18 children were killed and 20 others injured by a car bomb as they gathered to play football in the western Iraqi city.  At this point, the cause of the explosion, who was responsible, and the number of resulting deaths or injuries remain uncertain.

Truthdig reviewed multiple sources but found distressingly little overlap by Wednesday’s end.  To recap: Initial reports of the deaths of 18 boys ages 10 to 15 were countered by an American spokesman Tuesday, who described the blast to Reuters as a “controlled” detonation set off by U.S. troops.  He also said he was unaware of any other explosions in that area and that about 30 people were injured, including a few children, but none killed. 

To make matters more confusing, an update from Reuters on Tuesday quoted an American military representative, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, who suggested that “two separate incidents” may have occurred in the same area.
 
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s Washington Post brought word that 16 children and two women had been killed by a bomb in a truck, according to Iraqi Col. Tariq al-Alwani.  The Post piece also cited a Los Angeles Times report that included a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who pointed to “criminal gangs” as responsible and condemned their “crime against children in their innocent playgrounds.”

The AFP ran a version closely resembling the first on this list. The United Arab Emirates newspaper Khaleej Times picked up the story, which remained on the paper’s site Wednesday, reiterating the 18-dead-and-20-wounded count and chalking the blast up to insurgent activity in the volatile city, thought to be an outpost for al-Qaida in Iraq.  Sunni Sheikh Hamid al-Hais, as well as an unidentified defense official, weighed in for the AFP and stuck with the original death toll. 

So, were U.S. forces behind the Ramadi blast? Criminal gangs?  Were there two “incidents” or one?  Was the explosion contained or intentionally deadly?  The story may change again, but we hope it will soon be a coherent and verifiable report rather than yet another round in an international game of telephone.

UPDATE:  Follow this link to read DoD-authorized publication Stars and Stripes’ account of the confusion.

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By Hal, March 1, 2007 at 9:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can’t tell if Quy Tran is being ironic or not. Do you mean that whatever American troops do is by definition good, or are you saying that if it was American troops that set off the explosion, then that’s who should be labeled “terrorist”?

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By Ga, March 1, 2007 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is just typical “first reports” gone through several people before finally getting to newspapers.

It almost always happens this way. First reports are almost always have inaccuracies. And I do not think that many people know this. Any news-junky should (any one who actually reads the many reports, fully, and then continues to follow the story).

Frankly, people who constantly read the headlines and first few paragraphs of breaking news are more likely to be more ill-informed than those who wait and read in-depth reports that come out months for even years later in books and through documentaries.

Some of the very best documentaries ever to be produced are on PBS television: Frontline, Frontline/World, P.O.V. and Independent Lens—all of which are at risk as has been noted on Truthdig.

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By Quy Tran, March 1, 2007 at 11:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Excuse me, U.S. troops never killed children, pregnant women or committed raping. Only terrorists did.

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By Christopher Cuttance, March 1, 2007 at 10:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So, the US military set off a controlled explosion and admits injuring 30 people with it?  Excuse me?

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