A suspected al-Qaida in Iraq suicide bomber smashed a truck loaded with TNT and toxic chlorine gas into a police checkpoint in Ramadi on Friday, killing at least 27 people, the ninth such attack since the group's first known use of a chemical weapon in January.
Al-Qaida in Iraq, which asserts fealty to Osama bin Laden, was believed to be hitting back at Sunni tribesmen who are banding together to expel foreign fighters from their territory.
The bombing in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province and an insurgent stronghold, left many people nearby with breathing difficulties and some needed hospitalization, according to police Maj. Jubair Rashid al-Nayef. Most were released in about 30 minutes. Thirty other victims were hospitalized with wounds from the explosion.
Police opened fire as the suicide bomber sped toward a checkpoint three miles west of the city, police Col. Tariq al-Dulaimi said. Nearby buildings were heavily damaged, and police were searching the rubble for more victims.
The first known chlorine attack took place Jan. 28, also in Ramadi. Pentagon officials first disclosed the attack, which killed at least 16 people.
In low exposures, chlorine irritates the respiratory system, eyes and skin. Higher levels can lead to accumulation of fluid in the lungs and other symptoms. Death is possible with heavy exposure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As I have pointed out on my show on many occasions, chlorine is an ineffective weapon. With all due repsect to those who were killed in this attack, 27 people probably would have died in this explosion without the chlorine element. For one, it took place at a police check point, that means there were probably many cars lined up in the checkpoint. The truck exploding while colliding with vehicles or buildings probably set off other explosions of gas tanks, etc., people trapped inside burning cars,etc..
With a large explosion such as this one much of the chlorine vapor is incinerated by the heat of the explosion, thus rendering the chlorine element of the weapon virtually ineffective except for the terror aspect of it....J.R.