Iraqis vent rage on call-in TV after bombs kill 43

By Michael Georgy
Wed Aug 17,11:06 AM ET



BAGHDAD (Reuters) - State television flashed grisly images of the latest bombing victims as the anchor told viewers their squabbling leaders would stabilize the country, in words that could only be termed reassuring in Iraq's chaos.

"It is a dialogue. They did not pull out guns and shoot each other," said the anchor on Iraqiya television, referring to Iraqi politicians struggling to draft a constitution.

Hours before they resumed negotiations, three car bombs killed at least 43 people and wounded 76 in an attack on a Baghdad bus station in morning rush hour, stepping up pressure on politicians to deliver on promises of security.

Al-Iraqiya quickly broadcast a call-in show, inviting Iraqis to respond to "the ugly terrorist crime" while broadcasting images of the latest carnage in Baghdad's version of U.S. and British breakfast television.

"This is a difficult test. We have to ask who they are (the bombers) and what they want," said government spokesman Laith Kubba, one of the callers.

But Iraqis are in no mood for questions. They want decisive action from a government paralyzed by sectarian and ethnic divisions holding up efforts to draft a constitution.

"These men that kill 100, 50 and 70 men a day -- have they been put to death," said a caller named Abu Abbas. "How many have been put to death? How many? The National Assembly is supposed to represent the Iraqi people. All I hear is we will do this and we will do that."

Frustrated Iraqis were bombarded with footage of bloodied bodies and policemen standing in emergency rooms that have treated hundreds of bombing victims.

"When will Iraqi blood stop being spilled?" asked Om Hassan.

SECURITY FORCES

Between calls and comments, al-Iraqiya showed footage of Iraq's new army and security forces crawling under barbed wire and practicing martial arts.

Such images have done little to ease anxiety in a country where guerrilla bombings have killed thousands of security forces and civilians.

The show's anchor interrupted the program for a breaking news announcement that four men suspected of involvement in the bus station bombing had been captured.

"I call on the government to try these men on television," said a caller.

Some Iraqis in the capital say they are taking the law into their own hands in a city plagued by criminal gangs.

In the Sadr City area of Baghdad, militiamen pulled a man from the trunk of a car and shot him and two women, saying they were running a prostitution ring, witnesses said on Wednesday.

Angry callers yelled while Iraqi officials sat at the negotiating table again after failing to meet an August 15 deadline to draft a constitution.

The anchor urged the officials to finish writing the document after telling Iraqis that Saddam Hussein's police state would never return, words that failed to soothe another caller.

[I]"Instead of Saddam we now have thousands of Saddams," he fumed. [/I]