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Suicide bomb in Iraqi town kills 115
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-03-01 01:37

HILLA, Iraq: One minute they were seeking work. The next their bodies were torn apart by shrapnel, cut down in Iraq's bloodiest single insurgent attack since US-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

People gather near the scene and sift through the wreckage after a suicide car bombing in Hilla, Iraq Monday Feb. 28, 2005 in this image from television. [AP]
A suicide bomber rammed his car into a crowd of people lining up for medical certificates needed for job applications in the town of Hilla, 100 kilometers south of Baghdad.

At least 115 people were killed and more than 140 wounded, a staggering toll even in Iraq, where suicide bombers strike nearly every day and death has become routine.

Those killed had been hoping to find work in an oil-rich country that has offered little in recent months but violence and uncertainty.

Instead, residents of the poor southern town screamed and wept openly as they stood over a carnage of mangled bodies.

The explosion sprayed hot shards of metal across the street at another crowd that had formed at the town's vegetable market.

A few tomatoes on boxes were all that was left after the blast. Smoke rose into the air as people clawed through the twisted and incinerated remains, crying and shouting "God is greatest," while others stared in disbelief at the mayhem.

Residents of the Shi'ite town, known before the war for its dates, were overwhelmed by the number of bodies in their streets.

"How can anyone do this to human beings?" asked one man staring, numbed by the destruction.

Bodies, some with their bloodied limbs dangling awkwardly, were loaded onto rickety wooden carts and pushed away. Others were piled onto the back of white police pickup trucks.

Iraqi police, who themselves have lost hundreds of their comrades to suicide bombings, stood in shock, occasionally firing their AK-47 assault rifles in the air to impose order.

Firefighters sprayed their hoses at blackened bodies, some missing heads. Body parts remained buried among the rubble.

"The number of dead has reached 115. We are doing our utmost to treat the wounded (but) the death toll may rise," an official in Hilla's health directorate said. He said existing patients had been moved out of hospitals to make way for the victims of the blast. More than 30 medics had rushed to the city from nearby towns.

(China Daily 03/01/2005 page1)

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