Suicide bomber kills 49 at Iraq funeral

Updated: 2008-04-17 19:27

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber struck a funeral in northern Iraq on Thursday, killing 49 mourners in the latest attack in a region where al Qaeda militants have regrouped, police said.

They said more than 50 people had been wounded when the bomber detonated a suicide vest in a Sunni Arab village near the town of Adhaim in Diyala province.

One wounded mourner said the funeral had been for two members of a US-backed neighbourhood security unit who were killed recently. The attack was one of the deadliest in Iraq for months and underscored the ability of militants to wreak havoc despite overall falls in violence.

"Suddenly a fireball filled the funeral tent. I fell to the grounds. I saw bodies scattered everywhere," said wounded mourner Ali Khalaf, who was taken to the town of Tuz Khurmato for treatment.

He said he saw bodies being piled into pickup trucks.

The US-backed neighbourhood security units, called "Concerned Local Citizens" by the US military, are often attacked by Sunni Islamist al Qaeda militants.

Northern Iraq has seen an upsurge in bombings this week, including one that killed 40 people in the town of Baquba, capital of Diyala, on Tuesday.

US and Iraqi authorities say al Qaeda Sunni Arab militants have moved into the north after being pushed out of western Anbar province and Baghdad.

Al Qaeda militants are frequently blamed for attacking funerals, which are often held with little security. The group also a history of striking with car bombs near government targets and civilian crowds.

The spate of bombings this week in the north could signal a new campaign by Sunni Arab militants. On Monday, a suicide attacker and two car bombs killed 18 people in northern areas where al Qaeda is active.

While the US military says security has improved in the north, the strikes have been a reminder of the instability there at a time when attention has been focused mainly on fighting in Shi'ite areas that erupted late last month.


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