BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide bomber struck a crowd of mostly poor Shiites in
Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 63 people and wounding more than 200 after
luring construction workers onto a pickup truck by offering them jobs as they
were eating breakfast.
The blast, condemned by both
Shiite and Sunni lawmakers, came on a day that saw the US military report the
deaths of five more troops. At least 59 other Iraqis were also killed or found
dead, including an AP Television News cameraman who was shot while covering
clashes in the northern city of Mosul.
An Iraqi grieves over the bodies of
his dead relatives at Al-Kindi hospital in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Dec.
12, 2006, following two synchronized explosions that occurred in Iraq's
capital. Suspected insurgents set off two bombs in a main square of
central Baghdad where scores of Iraqis were waiting for jobs as day
laborers, killing at least 59 people and wounding 153, police said.
The Baghdad suicide attack shattered storefront windows, dug craters in the
road and set fire to several cars. People rushed to the devastated area to see
if friends or relatives were killed or wounded. Mangled bodies were piled up at
the side of the road and partially covered with paper. Two men sat on the
sidewalk, crying and covering their faces with their hands.
The bombing took place about 7 a.m. in Tayaran Square, where men gather daily
to solicit jobs as construction workers, cleaners and painters. They buy
breakfast at stands selling tea and egg sandwiches while waiting for potential
employers to drive up, making them easy targets.
The practice has become increasingly common amid high unemployment and
soaring prices, forcing men to hire themselves out daily to feed their families.
The Iraq Study Group report released this month by a bipartisan commission in
Washington said that unemployment ranges from 20 percent to 60 percent of Iraq's
It was the second major attack in less than a month in which unemployed
Shiites were lured to their deaths by a suicide bomber promising to hire them
for the day. On Nov. 19, 22 people were killed and 44 were wounded when a
minivan driven by a man promising work exploded in the mainly Shiite southern
city of Hillah.
Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who gave the official
police account of Tuesday's attack, said at least 63 people were killed and 236
were wounded. Other police put the death toll as high as 71.
Police initially said it was a coordinated bomb attack involving a minivan
and a car, but later said there was only one bombing.
Khalil Ibrahim, 41, who owns a shop in the area and suffered shrapnel wounds
to his head and back, also thought there were two blasts, saying he fainted
after being thrown against the wall by the force of the second.