Why are American soldiers handing out sweets?
The children were looking forward to chocolate
The girls and boys had been gathering around US soldiers to grab candy when the assassin struck. He drove his pickup truck into the group of about 100 children and set off an explosive device.
Most of the more than 30 fatalities in the gruesome attack in the El-Jedidah district of Baghdad were between the ages of eight and twelve. The American attempt to gain sympathy from the Iraqi people came to a cruel end yesterday.
"Why are the American soldiers distributing chocolate and sweets to children when they know that they are a target for attackers?" Said Saleh Sadoun, owner of a shop near the attack site, indignantly. "You want to be nice to the children and thereby endanger their lives." Other eyewitnesses cursed the attackers. "These are not resistance fighters, but criminals who killed innocent children," said the father of one of the victims.
Presumably the assassin struck consciously at the moment when the soldiers wanted to make themselves popular with the children with chocolate and sweets. Last September, more than 30 children were killed when they were given candy by US soldiers at an opening ceremony for a sewage plant. Even then, many relatives had blamed the US soldiers for the death of their children. With their presence at the celebration, they would have made an easy target for the attackers.
Again and again civilians are victims who, in the eyes of the insurgents, are considered collaborators. Mostly they are police officers, recruits from the new Iraqi army or employees of foreign companies. The fact that Iraqi children are deliberately killed because they are near US soldiers is a shock for many Iraqis. In their eyes it is the cruellest form in which the insurgents show that they do not want to tolerate friendly relations with the foreign troops in Iraq.
The new attack will probably make contact with the local population even more difficult for the American troops than it already is. Many Iraqi mothers are said to forbid their children to accept gifts from the soldiers after the bloody act.
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