Wednesday 31 August 2011

Baghdad bridge disaster anniversary

In the week when it was revealed that back in 2002, British Prime Minister Tony Blair secretly promised President Bush that Britain would join in the bombing and invasion of Iraq in defiance of the United Nations, a sombre reminder of the chaos the deadly duo left behind.

On this day, six years ago, a million Shi’ite pilgrims had thronged to a holy site in Baghdad.  The atmosphere was tense after a number of attacks by Sunni extremists.   When rumours of a suicide bomber began to spread through the crowd, people fled to the Al-Aaimmah Bridge to try to escape.

Soon there was a dreadful crush, with pilgrims being suffocated and trampled to death.   Railings gave way, and many people fell into the River Tigris below, while others jumped to escape the crush.   One Sunni  drowned from exhaustion after rescuing a number of people from the waters, but altogether up to 1,000 people died.

A Sunni group with links to al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for one of the earlier attacks that had helped cause the panic, but the government claimed the stampede had simply been a dreadful accident.

The letter that reveals Blair’s secret promise to Bush:-

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