Monday, July 23, 2007

Generic Baghdad news story

Look, news agencies, it's really bad form to risk your reporters' lives to cover the endless carnage in Iraq. There's no need to send them out on the street in flak vests to interview dead people about how they got that way. In the interest of kinder and gentler news gathering, I have created the following template which your reporters can use from the comfort of their hotel room — or for that matter, from Ibiza. They need only pick up their cell phone and dial until they find a living Iraqi policeman to supply the details.

{Insert number} Car Bombs Kill {number} in Iraq

BAGHDAD – {Number} parked cars exploded within {number} minutes in a predominantly {Shiite} {Sunni} area in Baghdad, killing at least {number} people, police said, the deadliest since {date} in a series of bombings and shooting attacks nationwide. {Number} of the blasts in the Baghdad neighborhood of {location} struck nearly simultaneously.

One targeted a {police patrol} {mosque} {embassy}, killing {number} {soldiers} and {number} pedestrians and wounding {number} other people, a police officer said, adding that at least {number} cars also were damaged in the blast, which struck near to a {police training academy} {police station} {U.S. Army checkpoint}.

Another parked car bomb struck at about the same time, ripping through a bustling {vegetable market} {flea market} {residential street}, killing {number} civilians and wounding {number} others.

Television news footage showed U.S. soldiers milling about the charred wreckage, with shattered glass and blackened debris from nearby shops and street stalls strewn on the bloodstained pavement.

Another car packed with explosives blew up on the main road about {number} yards from an entry point to the U.S.-controlled Green Zone, killing at least {number} Iraqis and wounding {number}, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. The heavily fortified Green Zone is home to the U.S. and British embassies as well as Iraqi government offices and thousands of American troops and contractors.

Elsewhere in the capital, a bomb exploded on a(n) {SUV} {minibus} {taxi} near a busy commercial area, killing {number} people and wounding {number} others, police said.

A roadside bomb struck an Iraqi army patrol about {number} miles {east} {west} {north} {south} of Baghdad, killing {number} troops, according to police and morgue officials. The explosion occurred on the southeastern edge of the volatile {name} province.

Near the Iranian border, gunmen ambushed a convoy of trucks loaded with {goods} {medical supplies} {refugees} being sent from Baghdad to {location}. {Number} people were killed and {number} others kidnapped, including drivers and guards, police said.

In western {name} province, security officials said at least {number} policemen were killed and {number} wounded when a woman hiding an explosives belt under her Islamic gown blew herself up as she was about to be searched at a checkpoint on the {western} {eastern} {northern} {southern} outskirts of Ramadi.

In all, at least {number} people were killed nationwide on {day}, according to security officials who asked not to be identified because they feared retribution.

The U.S. military also reported the deaths of {number} American soldiers this weekend in separate roadside bombings in Baghdad and {north} {south} {east} {west} of the capital. One attack occurred {day} and the other on {day}, raising to at least {number} members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003.

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