Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mundane Horrors

Many of the horrors in Iraq are oddly mundane. Take this recent horror story:

U.S. forces killed two Iraqi women - one of them about to give birth - when the troops shot at a car that failed to stop at an observation post in a city north of Baghdad, Iraqi officials and relatives said Wednesday. Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, was being raced to the maternity hospital in Samarra by her brother when the shooting occurred Tuesday.

Jassim, the mother of two children, and her 57-year-old cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassan, were killed by the U.S. forces, according to police Capt. Laith Mohammed and witnesses.

The U.S. military said coalition troops fired at a car after it entered a clearly marked prohibited area near an observation post but failed to stop despite repeated visual and auditory warnings.

``Shots were fired to disable the vehicle,'' the military said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press. ``Coalition forces later received reports from Iraqi police that two women had died from gunshot wounds ... and one of the females may have been pregnant.''

Jassim's brother, who was wounded by broken glass, said he did not see any warnings as he sped his sister to the hospital. Her husband was waiting for her there.

``I was driving my car at full speed because I did not see any sign or warning from the Americans. It was not until they shot the two bullets that killed my sister and cousin that I stopped,'' he said. ``God take revenge on the Americans and those who brought them here. They have no regard for our lives.''

Why do I call this mundane? Because of this:

Khalid Nisaif Jassim, the pregnant woman's brother, said American forces had blocked off the side road only two weeks ago and news about the observation post had been slow to filter out to rural areas.

He said the killings, like those in Haditha, were examples of random killings faced by Iraqis every day.

So Jassim didn't know that he was driving through an observation post. Because it hadn't been there very long. And his sister was in labor, so he drove fast and probably paid little attention to his surroundings. And so two women died and the baby was never born.

This is horrible in a different way from the alleged killings in Haditha, in a mundane way, and somehow that is almost worse. Almost.