Suicide bomber in fuel truck kills 60 in Iraq
Updated: 2005-07-17 08:02

KERBALA, Iraq - A suicide bomber in a fuel truck killed at least 60 people near a crowded vegetable market in a town south of Baghdad on Saturday and al Qaeda warned of more violence in a bid to seize the Iraqi capital.

The blast near a Shi'ite mosque in Musayyib, near Kerbala, also wounded 82 people and destroyed nine cars, police said.

Iraqi policemen view a destroyed vehicle after a car bomb attack on an Iraqi army convoy killed six people and wounded 15 in Baghdad July 15, 2005.
Iraqi policemen view a destroyed vehicle after a car bomb attack on an Iraqi army convoy killed six people and wounded 15 in Baghdad July 15, 2005. [Reuters]
"This is a black day in the history of the town," Musayyib police chief Yas Khudayr told Reuters by telephone.

Some people who rushed to the scene discovered they had lost loved ones. "After the bomb I went over there and found my son's head. I could not find his body," said Mohsen Jassim of his 18-year-old son.

Al Qaeda, which inspires suicide bombers from across the Arab world to wage holy war in Iraq, claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing campaign in its second day and said more violence would follow.

"The 'Hassan Ibrahim al-Zaidi attack' continues for the second day in a row, with rigged cars, martyrdom attacks and clashes," said an al Qaeda statement on a Web Site.

"The operation is continuing as planned and we warn the enemies of God of more to come. We ask our Muslim brothers around the world to pray for God to grant us victory."

There were no signs that al Qaeda's militants had taken over any parts of the capital but the frenzy of suicide missions was a bloody reminder that the government still has a long way to go before stamping out such attacks.

Although Iraqi officials are optimistic about the country's security forces, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said it could take up to 12 years to stamp out the insurgency by Arab Sunnis bent on toppling the Shi'ite-led government.

Militants struck elsewhere hours before the Musayyib carnage, killing at least 16 people.

Those strikes came a day after 10 militants blew themselves up across Baghdad and an eleventh attacked Iskindiriya, south of the capital. In all they killed at least 32 people, police said.

In Amara in southeast Iraq, three British soldiers died in what the Ministry of Defense in London said was a suspected roadside bomb. A little-known Iraqi insurgent group said in a Web statement that it was behind the killing.

"Thank God, this morning ... three British soldiers were killed and at least three others were injured by exploding a package by their patrol in the Maysan province," the group, calling itself the Imam Hussein Brigades, said.

The statement was posted on a site used by the main Iraqi insurgent groups, including the al Qaeda group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But unlike those mainly Sunni groups, the name suggested it was a Shi'ite group. It said it also killed an Iraqi judge in the town of Nassiriya.


In Baghdad, tense officers manned extra police checkpoints throughout the capital, Reuters journalists and drivers reported, after the series of blasts on Friday.

Suicide bombers have consistently undermined government promises that January elections would pacify the country and violence has raised fears Iraq could slide toward civil war.

"Through the day and the night, Baghdad rang with the music of the mujahideen's bullets and the prayers of the martyrs," al Qaeda said in another Internet statement.

The two days of spectacular attacks followed a thwarted triple suicide attack at a gate to Baghdad's fortified Green Zone government compound on Thursday. A suicide car bomb on Wednesday near a U.S. patrol killed 27 people, mostly children.

Suicide bombs, which Iraqi officials say are orchestrated by groups like Zarqawi's, have increased sharply since the Shi'ite- and Kurdish-led government took power in April and Sunnis once dominant under Saddam Hussein were sidelined.

On the diplomatic front, Iraqi's Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari arrived in Iran for the first visit in decades by a leader of Iraq to its Shi'ite neighbor and former foe.

Jaafari's trip is seen as a historic opportunity to mend ties with a country that Iraq fought for eight years under Saddam. But too quick a rapprochement risks alienating both the United States and Iraq's Sunni Arabs, who are suspicious of Jaafari's Shi'ite-led government's ties to Shi'ite Iran.

"We consider Iraq as our brother," Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref told reporters in Tehran.

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