Car bombing strikes Iraq’s National Theater

Susman is a Times staff writer.

Just last month, The Times wrote about the revival of Baghdad’s National Theater and the resilience of the actors, actresses, directors and writers who had kept their artistry alive through the war and who finally were launching their first nighttime performances since the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003.

On Saturday, bombers struck outside the theater just before sunset. Police say an Oldsmobile blew up as people were heading to the theater in the capital’s Karada district. Initial reports from police said five people were killed and 23 injured. A dozen cars along the busy street were badly damaged or destroyed.

In northern Iraq, at least 12 people were killed and 36 wounded by a bomb blast in the city of Tall Afar, about 35 miles west of Mosul. The city has been repeatedly hit by insurgents believed to be Sunni Arabs who cross over from nearby Syria to fuel the violence brewing in that region between Arabs and Kurds vying for power.


Both attacks showcased the instability across Iraq, where violence has greatly decreased in the last year but its people’s view of things often differs from the U.S. military’s vision.

The United States consistently points out the positives -- fewer attacks, lower death and injury tolls, arrests of suspected insurgents. The people who live in the neighborhoods, go to work each day and contend with the unpredictable nature of life in Iraq look at the situation differently.

“There is no security since the Americans came to Iraq,” said Ali Kadem Attiya, a firefighter on the scene of a recent bombing in Baghdad. He said the U.S. invasion planted the seeds of sectarianism between Sunnis and Shiites. “The ones who promised us democracy -- where is the democracy?”

A waiter who survived that blast, Mohammed Kareem, said he didn’t feel safe outdoors because he feared Iraqi soldiers were not vigilant enough to spot threats, such as boxes left on the street that might contain bombs.

“There is no safety at all,” he said. “I’ve started to feel afraid again, and when I get back home, I thank God.”