Suicide Bombings Continue in Iraq

Article excerpt

Byline: AMMAR KARIM

AL MUSSAYIB, Iraq (AFP, Reuters) The blitz of suicide bombings in Iraq showed no sign of abating Sunday after a bomber drove a tanker of liquified gas into a southern town killing at least 70 and wounding 95.

It was the deadliest single suicide attack since the new Shiite-led government took power in late April.

The attack came during what al- Qaeda said was a suicide bombing offensive designed to seize Baghdad.

The Saturday evening bombing in the central square of Al-Musayyib town, 60 km south of the capital, devastated the main square, torched some 20 cars, destroyed about 40 shops and set nearby buildings on fire.

Separate suicide attacks continued Sunday morning in Baghdad where at least four Iraqis, three of them police commandoes, were killed and 17 people wounded in three such bombings mostly on police convoys, an interior ministry official said.

Since Friday, some 100 people have been killed and nearly 300 wounded in some 20 suicide bombings around the country, according to an AFP count.

Saturday evenings bombing at Al-Musayyib, came at a time when people were out enjoying the relative evening coolness, and appeared to target a Shiite mosque which also houses the local offices of supporters of firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

"I was 100 meters away when I saw the fireball. It was enormous... People were burning in their cars. We had to get them out with hooks," said Khodr Abbas, a 24-year-old who works at the local Sadr office.

"I saw women in the burning houses crying for help and we couldnt do a thing," he said.

One of those injured, Ammar Al-Karaguili, 40, said he saw desperate parents throwing their children out of windows and from balconies to escape the inferno.

Police lieutenant Hassan Ali said the square was normally closed off to tanker trucks, but he thought this one was let through a road block when the driver said he wanted to turn his vehicle around.

"The driver then stopped his truck, got out, opened the tankers gas valves and blew himself up," Ali said.

Police had earlier suggested a suicide bomber with explosives strapped to his body had walked up to the tanker before blowing himself up.

Four mortar bombs slammed into the town center seconds after the bombing, Ali added.

Local people thought the mortar fire might have come from the Jurf AlSakhar district, across the river, and they blamed militant Sunni Arabs for the coordinated strike. …