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Iraq Car Bomb Kills Scores


http://gdb.rferl.org/5ED3FF35-0042-469D-83A8-6140932E3100_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/5ED3FF35-0042-469D-83A8-6140932E3100_mw800_mh600.jpg (file photo) 28 July 2004 -- A suicide car bomb attack near an Iraqi police recruiting center has killed nearly 70 people and wounded more than 50 others.

The attack in Ba'qubah, north of Baghdad, is the deadliest since the United States handed over power to an interim Iraqi government last month.

Dead bodies lay scattered about the Ba'qubah street, some of them still on fire.

The local hospital was overwhelmed, with many of those injured forced to sit on the floor.

Among the dead were civilians who had been shopping at a nearby market, as well as 21 passengers traveling in a minibus.

But witnesses say the bomb appeared to target men lining up at a police recruiting center.

An Iraqi police officer spoke to Reuters at the scene: "We had [police] recruits and we registered their names and told them to line up here in the street when a car bomb exploded. It was a minibus type of Toyota."

The bombing was the deadliest attack in Iraq since 24 June, when more than 100 people were killed in a series of attacks across the country.

It drew immediate condemnation from U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, on a visit to Cairo: "[I] condemn the bombing that took place this morning [in Ba'qubah]. It is, once again, an attempt by murderers to deny the Iraqi people their dream -- a peaceful country that rests on a solid foundation of freedom."

But Powell said it will not deter the U.S. and Iraq from their goal. "They [insurgents] are killing Iraqis for the purpose of denying Iraqis the basic freedoms that the rest of the world increasingly is enjoying. We have to condemn it. We have to fight it. We must not let these kinds of tragic incidents deter us from our goal," Powell said.

Ba'qubah has been the scene of frequent car bombings and suicide attacks over the past year -- many of them targeted at Iraqi police.

This attack comes exactly one month after the United States handed over power to an interim government.

It also comes three days before a major political conference to chart Iraq's future.

Some 1,000 delegates are due to gather in Baghdad on 31 July to elect a 100-member National Council to oversee the interim government.

Today's blast, along with several other violent incidents today, has heightened concerns about security for that two-day conference.

(Agencies/RFE/RL)

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FACTBOX: Major Deadly Attacks In Iraq Over the Past Year

28 July: 68 people killed, more than 50 wounded as car bomb explodes outside a police station used as a recruiting center in Ba'qubah.

26 June: 23 killed in car bomb attack in Hilla, south of Baghdad.

24 June: At least 100 people killed in coordinated attacks in north and central Iraq.

17 June: 35 killed and 138 wounded when a suicide car bomber slams into a crowd of army recruits in Baghdad.

17 May: A suicide car bomber kills Izzadine Saleem, president of the Iraqi Governing Council, and eight others, including the bomber, in Baghdad.

21 April: At least 68 people, mostly policemen and schoolchildren, killed in series of suicide bombings in Al-Basrah.

2 March: Bomb attacks on Shi'a Muslim shrines in Karbala and in Baghdad kill at least 181, in the deadliest bombings since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

11 February: A suicide car bomber kills 47 in attack outside an army recruiting center in Baghdad.

10 February: At least 53 people killed in car bombing outside police station in Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad.

1 February: Twin suicide bombers kill 109 people in two Kurdish party offices in Irbil.

18 January: At least 25 people killed and 130 wounded in a suicide car bombing outside the U.S. headquarters in Baghdad.

2003

12 November: A truck bomb attack in Al-Nasiriyah, southern Iraq, kills 28 people, including 19 Italians, in the worst attack on Italian troops since World War II.

27 October: At least 43 die and 200 are wounded in explosions across Baghdad targeting four police stations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

29 August: A car bomb kills 83 people, including leading Shi'a politician Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, outside one of Shi'a Islam's holiest shrines in Al-Najaf.

19 August: A truck bomb at UN headquarters in Baghdad kills 22 people, including UN Iraq envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.
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