Yesterday two of our staff visited Halabja, a Kurdish city where 8 people were recently hospitalized after a chemical bomb was unearthed. Locals point to this as the first material proof of the former Iraqi regime’s culpability for the March 1988 bombing of the city that killed over 5,000 people. In the years after the bombing, many returning Kurds simply planted gardens or built houses over the bombs; the growth of the city paved over the explosives.
Today, it’s difficult to know how many bombs lie beneath the city and what kind of threat they pose. Halabja’s mayor, Adham Goran, explains, “Apart from that bomb, there are numerous chemical bombs in Halabja that have not exploded. But because they are buried under the surface of the soils, or they are under the ground in civilian populated settlements, we do not want to touch them.”