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Thursday, 12 December 2019

Car bomb kills 40 at Baghdad funeral

The death toll from an Iraqi funeral bomb blast continues to rise in one of the deadliest attacks in a recent wave of violence

AP, Thursday 27 Jan 2011
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A car bomb ripped through a funeral tent in a mainly Shia area of Baghdad on Thursday, the deadliest in a series of attacks that killed at least 40 people.

The blasts were the latest in more than a week of bombings that have killed more than 200 people, raising concerns about an uptick in violence as the US military prepares to withdraw from the country.

The violence has mainly targeted the majority Shia community and Iraqi security forces, posing a major challenge to Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and his fragile coalition government that was seated last month.

The car that exploded about 2:00pm Thursday had been parked with the vehicles of other mourners, several yards (metres) away from the tent, so it wouldn't raise suspicion, police said. Several other cars were set afire and the force of the blast damaged nearby houses.

At least 37 people, including four children and three women, were killed and 78 wounded, according to police and hospital officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorised to release the information.

Ali Kamil, a 22-year-old college student who lives nearby, said he rushed to the scene and saw the blaze still raging.

He said young men were throwing stones at the Iraqi security forces, accusing them of failing to provide protection.

"I discovered that a friend of mine from college was killed in the blast along with another friend of mine, and I saw four other friends from the neighborhood injured," he said.

Three other Iraqis were killed in sporadic bombings targeting Iraqi troops and an electricity official earlier Thursday.

The first roadside bomb occurred about 8:30am near a police patrol at a commercial complex in Baghdad's Karradah neighborhood, killing one civilian and wounding five other people, including three policemen, officials said.

A bomb targeting Iraqi soldiers patrolling the Bab Al-Muadham area of Baghdad exploded about an hour and a half later, killing one bystander and wounding three others, according to police and hospital officials.

The director general of Baghdad's central electricity directorate, Ismaeel Al-Obeidi, also escaped an assassination attempt when a roadside bomb struck the two vehicle convoy carrying him to work, officials said.

One of his guards was killed and two others were wounded in the blast, which occurred just about 100 yards (meters) away from his office.

Violence has declined sharply in Iraq over the past few years, but near-daily attacks continue.More than 170 people were killed in bombings targeting Shia pilgrims and Iraqi security forces last week, shattering a two-month lull.

The persistent violence comes as Maliki must soon face the question of whether to ask US forces to stay after the end of the year.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama appeared to close the door on keeping any significant US military presence in Iraq beyond that deadline.

"This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq," Obama said.

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