Thu, Jul 29, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Car bomb kills at least 70 Iraqis

DEADLY The most lethal terrorist attack in Iraq since the transfer of sovereignty devastated central Baquba, destroying a bus and leaving a bloody tangle of death

AP , BAGHDAD, IRAQ

A man takes his son out of the emergency clinic at the Al-Karama hospital after the child was wounded during an attack yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

A suicide car bomb exploded outside a police recruiting center in central Baquba yesterday, killing at least 70 Iraqis and turning the busy city streets into a bloody tangle of twisted metal and dead bodies.

The attack, which killed 21 people inside a passing bus, was the deadliest bombing in Iraq since the US transferred sovereignty to an interim government June 28.

The bombing came amid an intense surge in violence: 35 insurgents and seven Iraqi police were killed in clashes southeast of Baghdad, a US soldier was killed in a bomb attack and a police officer was assassinated.

Iraqi officials have said they expected attacks to intensify as the country tries to edge toward democracy, and they worried a key national conference scheduled for Saturday will be a major target.

"The terrorists' goal is to hamper the police work, terrorize our citizens and show that the government is unable to protect the Iraqi people, and this will not happen," said Hamid al-Beyati, a deputy foreign minister.

The bombing in Baquba, a turbulent city 55km northeast of Baghdad, shattered the bustling heart of a commercial district filled with shops, fruit stands, government buildings and the police station at 10:13am.

The street was filled with charred vehicles, pieces of glass, twisted metal and abandoned shoes, all covered in blood and human remains. Dead bodies lay scattered about -- in the middle of the road, under cars, up against nearby buildings. A white metal security gate outside a shop was stained red with blood.

"It's all civilian casualties at this stage," US Army Captain Marshall Jackson said.

Witnesses said the bomb targeted men waiting outside the al-Najda police station trying to sign up for the force.

"These were all innocent Iraqis, there were no Americans," on angry man shouted at the scene.

A Health Ministry official said more than 70 were killed and 30 wounded. Twenty-one of the dead were on a nearby white bus that turned into a charred husk.

The local hospital was over-whelmed with the casualties. Every bed was filled, forcing many of the injured to sit on the floor amid pools of blood as they were treated by frantic health workers. One injured man sitting against the wall held his head in his hands and wept.

The bombing was the deadliest insurgent attack in Iraq since June 24, when coordinated attacks in north and central Iraq killed 89 people, including three US soldiers.

On April 21, five suicide bombings near police stations and a police academy in southern city of Basra killed 74 people and wounded 160 others. A coordinated attack on Shiite Muslim shrines in Karbala and Baghdad on March 2 killed at least 181.

In other violence, 35 insurgents and seven Iraqi soldiers were killed in early morning clashes in the city of Suwariyah southeast of Baghdad, Polish Lieutenant Colonel Artur Domanski, a multinational force spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

Another 10 soldiers from the Iraqi security forces were wounded in the joint operation with US Army special forces and Ukrainian troops, he said. No coalition troops were injured in the operation that also led to the capture of 40 insurgents, he said.

A US soldier was killed and three others injured late Tuesday when a roadside bomb severely damaged their armored Humvee while they were on patrol in the town of Balad-Ruz, about 65km northwest of Baghdad, according to spokesman Master Sergeant Robert Powell.

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