Contractor Held in Green Zone Death to Go Free, the "Piano Man of Baghdad"
On Wednesday, a car bomb struck a market in the southern city of al-Batha, out side of Nasiriya, killing over 30 and wounding dozens. Anger afterward was turned toward security forces for allowing the breach in security. Though this is a common occurrence of past months, the angry shouts turned to stoning in this case, and shots were fired by police to subdue the crowd, reportedly resulting in at least one injury. The governor of Dhi-Qar province, where al-Batha is located, fired the city’s chief of police immediately following the event.
Rod Nordland of the New York Times writes a detailed account, fairly comparable with the Washington Post’s Anthony Shadid. Nordland focuses on the crowd’s anger.
A crowd, including many survivors and lightly wounded people, gathered at the scene, voicing similar complaints. About midday, many of them began stoning police officers who were securing the bomb site, witnesses said.“Our men, our women and our children have been killed right in front of police eyes, and they did nothing. Now they come here to push around the poor people who lost their relatives,” said one of the protestors.
...Police officers fired automatic weapons toward the demonstrators, dispersing them but also wounding one, according to a police official. The trouble subsided after local officials intervened to calm residents.
Shadid has an account of someone who likely witnessed the perpetrator.
Survivors at the hospital said a man in civilian clothes had parked the car, which bore a license plate from the southernmost city of Basra. Unlike most residents, dressed in traditional clothes, he stood out in his Western-style shirt and pants, said Aqil Mohammed, a 21-year-old grocer whose store was near the site of the blast.Gina Chon of the Wall Street Journal writes less about the event and more of a big-picture story, framing the bombing within a context of Iraqi security and politics. A recent minibus bombing in Baghdad’s Dora district is brought into the picture.
Hadil Kamel was injured by shrapnel in the minibus explosion. She and her brother blame politicians for the recent flare-ups. She didn't blame any particular party, but suspected the violence is a move to stir up trouble in Iraq so politicians can use it to place blame on each other as they strive to get the upper hand in the upcoming elections.Anthony Shadid earns his money today by returning with a second article, this one about the five American contractors who were arrested this week as part of an investigation into the stabbing death of another US contractor in the Green Zone in May. It was announced that one of them will be released on Thursday. The main Iraqi government spokesman is said to be under the impression that the contractor, Don Feeney Jr., was released on Wednesday night. Throughout this entire affair, Iraqi and US sources have been out of tandem, and have often given conflicting statements.
"Our politicians still don't know how to solve their differences peacefully and they can only physically attack each other," said Ms. Kamel's brother, who declined to give his name for fear of retribution.
The men were arrested a week ago as part of an investigation into the death of Jim Kitterman, 60, whose body was found May 22. An Iraqi intelligence official said Kitterman, also a contractor, had been stabbed twice in the heart, bundled in a plastic bag and dumped in a lot less than a mile from the contractors' residence.Christopher Garabedian, known as the piano man of Baghdad, is featured in the Washington Post, in a friendly profile by Nada Bakri. Garabedian, or “Christo” as he is also called, plays a mixture of eastern and western music while sipping red wine, every night “in a city where pianists are rare and music venues are few.” His basic story, from playing with bands in the 80s to selling his own piano during the violent sectarian strife of recent years, is a nice little read.
At the time, U.S. Embassy officials stressed that the men had not been arrested on suspicion of involvement in Kitterman's killing. During a search of their house, carried out by Iraqi forces in coordination with the FBI, evidence had been found on an unrelated matter, the officials said, without disclosing details. Since then, the men have been held at an Iraqi police station in the Green Zone.
He plays at Al-Rif, a restaurant in Baghdad’s neighborhood of al-Arrassat. Patrons can again be seen in restaurants these days, but Al-Rif seems to be less than bustling, at least on the night that Bakri attended. Garabedian’s varied evening performance is followed, interspersed with his personal history. It worked as an advertisement for me – I’ll be checking him out soon.
At age 12, Garabedian started playing the harmonica at the Armenian school in Baghdad. But when his Russian teacher, Mrs. Natasha, overheard him perform the piano, she enrolled him in her lessons, he recalled. Impressed by his talent, she suggested that he travel to Moscow, where he would study to become a professional. But money was an obstacle, and Garabedian never left Iraq. Neither did he finish school or complete his lessons. Instead, he played with local bands at restaurants, parties and nightclubs for about $2 a performance, which he gave to his father.Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, no original Iraq coverage.
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