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Suicide bomber targets funeral procession in attack against Shiites

Sunday, November 20, 2005

At least 36 people were killed and 50 were injured in the bombing.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A suicide bomber detonated his car in a crowd of Shiite mourners north of Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 36 people and raising the death toll in two days of attacks against Shiites to more than 120. Five American soldiers died in roadside bombings.

In the north, U.S. and Iraqi forces raided a suspected al-Qaida hideout in Mosul and at least seven insurgents died -- three committing suicide to avoid capture, Iraqi authorities said. Four Iraqi policemen also were killed and 11 U.S. troops wounded, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.

The suicide car bomb exploded late in the afternoon as mourners offered condolences to Raad Majid, head of the municipal council in the village of Abu Saida, over the death of his uncle. Abu Saida is near Baqouba, a religiously mixed city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Police said about 50 people were injured.

Ambulances streamed into the main hospital in Baqouba ferrying the wounded from Saturday's blast; many were rushed into operating rooms where doctors worked frantically to save them.

Hospital facilities were so crowded that dazed and bloodied survivors -- many with serious injuries -- lay in agony on gurneys in the hallways because of the surgery backlog. Doctors and nurses in blood-spattered white uniforms rushed from gurney to gurney trying to determine who to treat first.

Outdoor market bombed

Earlier Saturday, a car bomb exploded in a crowd of shoppers at an outdoor market in a mostly Shiite neighborhood in southeast Baghdad, killing 13 people and wounding about 20 others, police reported. Witnesses said they saw a man park the car and walk away shortly before the blast.

The five American soldiers -- assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division -- died in a pair of roadside bombings near Beiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. command said. Five others from the same unit were wounded.

Another soldier from the 101st died in a U.S. hospital in Germany of injuries suffered two days ago when his vehicle was deliberately rammed by an Iraqi car near Beiji, the U.S. command said Saturday.

At least 2,090 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

In Cairo, Egypt, Shiite and Kurdish delegates stormed out of an Iraqi reconciliation conference, infuriated by a speaker who branded them as U.S. sellouts. They were persuaded to return after an apology.

The walkout highlighted the sectarian and political divisions at the all-party gathering, which the Arab League called to prepare for a bigger meeting to be held later in Iraq.

Insulting the Iraqi people

"They are insulting the Iraqi people and they are insulting the constitution on which several million Iraqis have voted," Shiite legislator Jawad al-Maliki told reporters outside the chamber after the brief walkout. "They want the situation in Iraq to go back to the way it used to be so that the mass graves can return."

In Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said police and U.S. soldiers surrounded a house before dawn Saturday after reports that al-Qaida in Iraq members were inside, said Brig. Said Ahmed al-Jubouri, a Mosul police spokesman.

As a fierce gunbattle broke out, three insurgents detonated explosives and killed themselves to avoid capture. Five more died fighting, while four police officers also were killed. Al-Jubouri said officials were attempting to identify the dead insurgents.

In Baghdad, the U.S. command confirmed the fire fight and said 11 U.S. soldiers, nine Iraqi army troops and one policeman were wounded. The U.S. statement put the insurgent death toll at seven.

Since Friday, at least 125 Iraqi civilians have been killed in bombings and suicide attacks. They include 76 people who died in near-simultaneous suicide bombings at two Shiite mosques in Khanaqin along the Iranian border. Four people have been arrested, including one believed to have been planning another suicide attack, a security officer in Khanaqin said.

Attacks against Shiite civilians by Sunni religious extremists have occurred throughout the Iraq conflict but spiked since last weekend when U.S. troops found up to 173 detainees in an Interior Ministry building in Baghdad.

Most of the detainees were believed to be Sunni Arabs, who dominate insurgent ranks, and some showed signs of torture. Iraq's Shiite-led government promised an investigation and punishment for anyone guilty of torture.

Elsewhere, masked gunmen killed five members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party in a series of attacks Saturday in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, police said.

Three children were killed and one was wounded when mortar rounds fired at a U.S. base about 50 miles south of Baghdad fell short of their target and struck a house, police said.


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