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Terrorists Kill At Least 41 Iraqis In Five Attacks

There’s still hope yet for the media and their dreams of an Iraq civil war.

From Saddam’s undying fans at the DNC’s Associated Press:

Multiple Bombings in Baghdad Kill 41

By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq – A suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt at a crowded gas station Tuesday — one of five attacks that rocked Baghdad in quick succession, killing at least 41 people and wounding scores, police said.

The surge of violence, including three car bombs, unsettled an Iraqi capital already shaken by fears the country teeters on the brink of sectarian civil war. Iraqis have suffered through days of reprisal killings and attacks on Sunni mosques since bombers blew apart the gold dome of the revered Shiite Askariya shrine in Samarra on Wednesday.

The Iraqi Cabinet said 379 people had been killed and 458 wounded in reprisal attacks in the week since the shrine was destroyed.

In Washington, President Bush decried the latest surge in sectarian violence in Iraq and declared that for Iraqis "the choice is chaos or unity."

Fears of civil war have been complicated by the continuing struggle among Iraqi politicians to form a new government. National security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie traveled to the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Tuesday to meet with Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the Shiite community’s most revered leader.

North of Baghdad, a blast badly damaged a Sunni mosque where the father of Saddam Hussein was buried in the family’s ancestral hometown, Tikrit.

The deposed leader’s trial resumed in Baghdad with his defense team ending their monthlong boycott and prosecutors presenting a document they said was signed by the former leader approving the executions of more than 140 Shiites in southern Iraq after an assassination attempt in the 1980s.

The Iraqi Islamic Party said a Sunni mosque in Baghdad’s northern al-Hurriyah neighborhood was destroyed in an explosion before dawn Tuesday. The Sunni organization blamed the Shiite-dominated government that, it said, "cooperates with the criminal hands that sabotaged God’s houses and lighted the fires of sedition."

At a gas station in the mostly Shiite eastern New Baghdad neighborhood, a suicide attacker joined a line of people waiting to buy kerosene before detonating the explosives strapped to his body, witnesses said. The blast killed 23 people and injured 51, Interior Ministry official Maj. Falah al-Mohammedawi said.

The charred remains of metal carts used by customers to transport kerosene drums littered the scene.

In the same region, a car bomb targeting a police patrol killed nine people and wounded 17 — all civilians, police and paramedics said.

Another car bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque in the crowded southeastern Karada neighborhood, killing four and wounding 16, al-Mohammedawi said.

Police said the vehicle was parked next to a small market opposite the Timimi mosque, which was closed for repairs. But witnesses said the vehicle was driven by a suicide attacker.

Distraught residents rushed to the scene, as firefighters fought back flames from burning cars.

A roadside bomb targeting the convoy of a defense ministry adviser killed five soldiers and wounded seven others in the eastern Zaiyona neighborhood, ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said. The adviser, Lt. Gen. Daham Radhi al-Assal, was not injured.

The U.S. military reported a U.S. soldier was killed by small-arms fire west of Baghdad on Monday. At least 2,292 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began, according to an Associated Press count.

In the south Tuesday, two British soldiers were killed in Amarah, 180 miles from Baghdad, the Defense Ministry reported in London. A witness said a car bomb targeted a British patrol and helicopters were seen taking away casualties.

The deaths raised the British toll in the Iraq conflict to 103.

The Baghdad bombings occurred as Iraqi leaders sought to dampen the threat of civil war between the nation’s Shiites and Sunnis, but nine bullet-riddled bodies, including that of a Sunni Muslim tribal sheik, were found Tuesday off a road southeast of Baghdad, police and hospital officials said.

The Iraqi army found the bodies near two burned out minibuses along the road from Baghdad into Iraq’s strife-prone Diyala province. The victims included Sheik Hamid Irbat Ghazi, of the influential Mahamdeh tribe, and two of his nephews, police said.

Al-Rubaie emerged from his meeting to tell reporters "the way to forming the government is difficult and planted with political bombs. We ask the Iraqi people to be patient, and we expect forming the government will take a few months."

He added: "The (United Iraqi) Alliance has chosen (Prime Minister Ibrahim) al-Jaafari and will not give up this choice. We expect that our partners in this country will respect this choice … taking into consideration the election results."

That balloting gave the Shiite bloc a majority of parliamentary seats but not enough to rule alone.

Al-Jaafari, the interim prime minister, has been criticized by opponents for weak leadership that has allowed militias to carry out reprisals on Sunnis and to infiltrate the police. Al-Jaafari’s links to Muqtada al-Sadr, who helped secure his nomination for another term, has alarmed some Shiites and others who fear the rise of the radical young cleric.

Leaders of all major sects and ethnic groups have appealed for calm, and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told American television networks he believed "the crisis is over."

"I think the country came to the brink of a civil war, but the Iraqis decided that they didn’t want to go down that path and came together," Khalilzad told CNN on Monday. "Clearly the terrorists who plotted that attack wanted to provoke a civil war.

"It looked quite dangerous in the initial 48 hours, but I believe that the Iraqis decided to come together."

On Tuesday, wailing relatives collected the bodies of their loved ones killed in last week’s sectarian violence.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that more than 1,300 Iraqis had been killed since then, but Tuesday’s Cabinet statement described that account as "inaccurate and exaggerated."

The Post cited figures from the Baghdad central morgue, but an official there told The Associated Press that as of Sunday night they had received only 249 bodies tied to the violence. The Post figure appeared high based on police and hospital reports from the major population centers at the time of the attacks.

More than 60 relatives of the dead — many of them women dressed in black, beating their chests while wailing in grief — assembled there with empty coffins to take away their dead family members.

One young man, who refused to give his name, said his three brothers went to buy bread Saturday night and were killed during a drive-by shooting.

Also Tuesday, gunmen in two speeding cars opened fire on the Sunni al-Salam mosque in the western Baghdad’s Mansour district, killing the guard, said police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razaq.

Gunmen in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, killed four police and a doctor, Dr. Bahaa al-Bakri of the city general hospital said. Three gunmen broke into the clinic of Dr. Yousif Ibrahim and shot him to death.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, February 28th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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