Wed, Aug 02, 2006 - Page 7 News List

At least 50 killed in latest Iraq attacks

ENDLESS VIOLENCE More than 20 of those killed were soldiers traveling in a bus near Tikrit, north of Baghdad, while other victims included police officers and civilians

AFP , BAGHDAD

Bombers killed at least 50 people in a wave of deadly attacks around Iraq yesterday as insurgents pursued their campaign against the security forces of the country's embattled coalition government.

In the bloodiest incident, a massive roadside bomb ripped apart a bus carrying soldiers from Baghdad to the northern city of Mosul, killing at least 23 of them and and wounding 20 more, a senior officer said.

This attack followed a blast in the center of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a crowd of police and soldiers waiting outside a bank and killed at least 10 of them and four bystanders.

A car bomb also exploded in the violent city of Muqdadiyah, 100km northeast of Baghdad, killing seven people and injuring 10, local police said.

And further north in Kirkuk, an ethnically-mixed city and a center of the oil industry two policemen were killed and two more, including a senior officer, were wounded by a roadside bomb, city police said.

The attacks came after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's embattled government vowed last week to rid Iraq of the "terrorists" which have brought bloodshed to its streets since US-led troops ousted former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.

They underline a trend whereby attacks on US troops in Iraq are declining -- only 44 died last month compared to a monthly average of more than 60 since the war -- while Iraqi forces bear the brunt of insurgent fury.

In Tikrit, Lieutenant Colonel Rabae Al-Kidawi said that the army bus was hit about 20km north of the city, Saddam's hometown.

"The soldiers were traveling from Baghdad to Mosul on the highway to take up their duty there," he said, adding that there were 33 personnel on the coach and that all had been killed or injured.

In Baghdad, troops had arrived at the al-Rafidein bank to collect their wages when the bomber struck, witnesses said at the scene, where several severely damaged military vehicles lay among shattered shop windows.

Medics at the nearby Ibn al-Nafis Hospital said they had received 10 dead soldiers and 25 wounded.

"We are overwhelmed," a medical official said.

The Kindi Hospital, which is better equipped for trauma victims, was treating nine injured soldiers and six civilians, a medic there said.

A defense ministry official confirmed that there had been military casualties, although he could not confirm how many, and added that four civilians were also known to have died.

The bomber struck in the Karrada district, a short distance from rubble left by a car bombing and a series of mortar strikes that killed 31 people last Thursday.

In recent weeks, there has been a spike in attacks in the mostly Shiite neighborhood, including a mass kidnapping of people from a mobile telephone company and the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday.

Karrada was once seen as a relatively peaceful area, where Baghdadis from all the city's confessional and ethnic groups would come to do their shopping while violence raged in other districts.

It is still one of the rare places in Baghdad to be completely under Iraqi control with no US military oversight or joint patrols.

The Muqdadiyah blast took place outside a police post and a bus station in a religiously mixed area plagued by sectarian violence and attacks by insurgents.

In a separate attack in Kirkuk, Sheik Abdul Razak al-Ibadi, a 55-year-old tribal leader among the area's Shiite minority, was shot dead in front of his home, police said.

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