Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Analysis: Baquba - the city where al-Qaeda reigns

Bodies collected overnight at a mogue in Baquba.

DAMASCUS - Refugees from Baquba city who have found shelter in Damascus describe their hometown as a "dead city" where armed men roam the streets and al-Qaeda reigns.

Baquba, capital city of Iraq's Diyala province is located 50 kilometers northeast of Baghdad on the Diyala river. In 2002 the estimated population was 280,000. The city has been inhabited continuously since pre-Islamic times and is the trade center for Iraq's commercial orange groves.

The city became a hot spot of resistance early on in the occupation. It has been torn apart in fighting between occupation forces and the Iraqi resistance - and also between various militia groups and al-Qaeda, which has emerged as a distinct new group, its fleeing residents say.

By the end of 2006, the city was largely under the control of Sunni resistance groups, but by early 2007 residents report that al-Qaeda had formed a larger presence in the city. As a result, more than half the people in the city have fled, refugees say.

Read the rest at Asia Times