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Iraq bombings, clashes kill 62 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 April 2008

AFP, BAGHDAD - A spate of bombings across Iraq and a fresh surge of fighting between Shiite militiamen and US forces in east Baghdad killed at least 62 people on Tuesday, Iraqi officials said.

11.	Iraqi soldiers and hospital employees carry an injured man in BaqubaA car bomb outside a courthouse in the central city of Baquba, a stronghold of Al-Qaeda, killed at least 40 people and wounded 80 in the most devastating attack in the violence-wracked country in a month, police said.

Medical officials said many of the victims were charred beyond recognition and people were crowding the local hospital trying to identify the remains of relatives. Three minibuses were destroyed and 10 houses damaged in the blast, which sparked pandemonium, an AFP correspondent said.

"At least 40 people were killed, including one woman and a police officer, when a car bomb exploded outside the main courtroom in Baquba," said a police official who would not be named. He added that at least 90 people were wounded. Dr Ahmed Fuad at the local hospital in Baquba, 60 kilometres (35 miles) north of Baghdad, confirmed the toll and said many of the victims "were burnt beyond recognition."

Brigadier General Ragib al-Omairi, an Iraqi army commander in Baquba, said among the dead were three policemen, a traffic police officer, three women and "a number of people no one can identify." Among the 90 wounded, he added, were 15 policemen, six women and two children.

Baquba, capital of the central province of Diyala, is one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq and regarded as an Al-Qaeda stronghold. Soon after the car bomb attack, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a restaurant in the western city of Ramadi killing 13 people, the city's police chief, Major General Tareq al-Youssef said.

He added that another 14 people were wounded in the attack which struck at around 12:30 pm (0930 GMT) in a restaurant near the western outskirts of the city, the capital of Anbar province. In the main northern city of Mosul, twin car bombs exploded in quick succession as a US military and Iraqi police patrol passed wounding 12 people, police said.

Four policemen were among the wounded in the attack, which followed three separate car bombings in Mosul on Monday, one of which targeted a passing patrol of US and Iraqi troops killing one person and wounding six.

Security officials in Baghdad, meanwhile, reported two workers killed and two policemen wounded on Tuesday by a roadside bomb planted near a police station in Baghdad's central Karrada neighbourhood. A later car bomb also in Karrada killed one person and wounded six others, including four policemen.

Since Monday, more than 80 people have been killed in a surge of insurgent attacks across Iraq, which come at a time when security forces are fighting street battles with Shiite militiamen in Baghdad's Sadr City. Renewed fighting on Tuesday between Shiite militiamen, mostly linked to radical Shiite cleric Moqtad al-Sadr, and security forces killed six people, the American military told AFP.

"Coalition forces took on small arms fire during an operation in Al-Sudayrah early Tuesday," the military said referring to an area inside Sadr City. It added that in return fire coalition forces killed three gunmen. US troops called in air support as the clashes continued, the military said, adding that in the ensuing firefight three more "enemy fighters" were killed.

Shiite militiamen have been engaged in sustained clashes with US and Iraqi forces for more than a week in Sadr City in which around 95 people have been killed. The firefights began when US and Iraqi forces started operations in the sprawling slum to stop lethal rocket and mortar attacks from the district towards the Green Zone, the seat of the Iraqi government and the US embassy.

The US military says that between March 23 and April 12 at least 596 rockets and mortars rounds were fired towards the Green Zone, many of them missing their target and killing Iraqi civilians. The attacks killed four Americans, two of them soldiers.

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