Bomber kills 36 mourners; 5 U.S. troops die
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. On Oct. 29, a bomb hidden in a truck loaded with dates exploded in another Shiite community in the same area, killing 30 people.
Ambulances streamed into the main hospital in Baqouba ferrying the wounded from Saturday’s blast; many were rushed directly 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.
Earlier Saturday, a car bomb exploded in a crowd of shoppers at an outdoor market in a mostly Shiite neighborhood on the southeast edge of 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.
“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 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 firefight 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.
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