April 18, 2008 in Nation/World

At least 50 dead in funeral blast

Los Angeles Times The Spokesman-Review
 
Associated Press photo

Iraqi security forces inspect the scene of a suicide bomb attack in the town of Albu Mohammed, north of Baghdad, on Thursday. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

BAGHDAD – A suicide bomber walked into a funeral for two cousins who had died fighting insurgents and blew himself up Thursday, killing at least 50 people, according to officials.

It was the latest strike in an internal war among Sunni Arabs, some of whom have aligned themselves with the United States and others with al-Qaida in Iraq.

“The gangsters threatened us not to make the funeral,” Khalaf Farhan, wounded in the blast, recalled from his hospital bed. “They said if we hold the funeral they will kill more of us, from our tribe.”

The residents of Albu Mohammed village, about 90 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province, had decided to defy them and bury the two men. The cousins had been kidnapped Tuesday.

Their mutilated bodies were found the next day, their hands and legs bound, with knife wounds in the stomach and bullets in the eyes and head.

Villagers, belonging to the Azzawi tribe, had only recently formed a paramilitary unit to defend the community of 4,000 to 4,500 people. Albu Mohammed sits in the Adhaim region along the Hamreen mountains, a stronghold of Sunni radicals.

The more than 100 mourners had already buried the two cousins and were sitting in the funeral tent when a man entered, Farhan recounted. He triggered the bomb and decimated the tent. At least 40 people were wounded in the attack, police said.

The killings amounted to the latest assault against Sunni Arabs, who have forged an alliance with the U.S. military in battling militant groups. U.S. military officials often refer to al-Qaida in Iraq as a foreign-led organization that relies on suicide bombers from other Arab countries, but the bulk of its members are Iraqi.


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