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Car Bomb Blast at Baghdad Funeral Kills 30

May 1, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ A car bomb exploded at the funeral of a Kurdish official in northern Iraq on Sunday, killing about 30 Iraqis and wounding more than 50, the U.S. military, as the death toll in a wave of violence against Iraq’s new government rose to at least 120.

Insurgents launched several other attacks across Iraq, killing 10 people, on Sunday. U.S. and Iraqi forces also detained several suspects in the abduction of a British aid worker believed killed last year and found clothing and documents that apparently belonged to her.

The attack on the funeral occurred in the city of Tal Afar, 90 miles east of the Syrian border, said Khisru Goran, the deputy provincial governor and a spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Party.

Goran said a suicide attacker detonated a car packed with explosives in a large tent where the funeral was being held. But the U.S. military said it was not a suicide attack.

The blast killed about 30 Iraqis and wounded more than 50, a U.S. military statement said, adding: ``Terrorists continue to target and disregard the safety of innocent citizens during their attacks.″

The funeral was being held for Sayed Talib Sayed Wahab, a KDP official gunned down by insurgents Saturday in Mosul, Goran said.

U.S. troops, Iraqi police and ambulances raced to the scene, but gunmen blocked the road and fighting broke out, he said. The U.S. military had no immediate information about that.

The blast followed several other attacks Sunday in Iraq that killed 10 people.

Two loud explosions also was heard in central Baghdad late Sunday, but the U.S. military had no immediate information on what could have caused them.

At least 110 people, including 11 U.S. soldiers, have died since Iraq’s first democratically elected government was approved on Thursday in violence aimed at deflating hopes in Washington and Baghdad that the installation of the new government would curb the insurgency. The government is due to be installed on Tuesday.

In another development, Iraqi militants released a videotape of a man who identified himself as Douglas Wood, an Australian living in California and married to an American woman. In it, he pleaded for U.S.-led coalition forces to leave Iraq to save his life.

Wood’s American wife, Pearl, told The Associated Press that she had seen the tape and the captive was definitely her husband. She said he had been in Iraq about a year and half, working as an engineer.

Five of the suspects apprehended Sunday during a raid of a house 20 miles south of Baghdad confessed to a role in killing Margaret Hassan, the director of CARE International in Iraq, an intelligence officer at the Interior Ministry said on condition of anonymity.

The British Embassy only confirmed the detention of three suspects and said a number of articles that apparently belonged to Hassan were recovered. The Iraqi officer said those included a purse, women’s shirts and trousers and documents bearing the CARE logo and signed by Hassan.

``We believe this is the first evidence that’s been found regarding her since her death,″ said Martin Cronin, first secretary at the British Embassy in Baghdad.

Four car bombings took place in Baghdad on Sunday, U.S. military spokesman Sgt. Greg Kaufman said. He said no U.S. soldiers were killed in the attacks but gave no further details.

One suicide attack took place near a water pump station in southeastern Baghdad, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Clifford Kent. No casualties were immediately reported.

Another car bomb exploded in the Zafaraniyah neighborhood of Baghdad, killing four Iraqi civilians and wounding 12, police said.

A third car bomb targeting an American patrol in western Baghdad killed a child and injured 10 other Iraqis, police said. An Associated Press photograph showed a heavily damaged U.S. Humvee at the scene.

In eastern Baghdad, a man failed to fully detonate the explosives in his car outside an American base, the military said. U.S. soldiers pulled the driver out of his burning car and the man later said he was forced to carry out the attack to protect kidnapped family members, according to the statement.

Insurgents also staged a well-coordinated attack against on a small road near Diala Bridge in eastern Baghdad, said police Lt. Col. Sabah Hamid al-Firtosi.

At 6:15 a.m., a pickup truck stopped near a checkpoint and insurgents jumped out, firing machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, al-Firtosi said. Other insurgents appeared from behind nearby trees and joined the attack, he said. Five policemen were killed and one was wounded.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, insurgents in three parked cars opened fire with hand guns on a police patrol in the western Jihad neighborhood, wounding four policemen, police Capt. Talib Thamir said.

South of Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded on a main road north of Hillah, wounding four civilians, said police Capt. Muthana Khalid. In Hillah itself, a drive-by shooting on a police patrol caused no injuries, but the police arrested the four gunmen involved, he said.

U.S. and Iraqi officials had hoped to curb support for the militants by including members of the Sunni Arab minority in a new Shiite-dominated Cabinet that will be sworn in Tuesday.

Minority Sunnis, who held monopoly power during Saddam Hussein’s rule are believed to be the backbone of Iraq’s insurgency. Most stayed away from landmark Jan. 30 parliamentary elections _ either in protest or out of fear of attack.

However, the lineup named by incoming Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari after months of political wrangling excluded Sunnis from meaningful positions and left the key defense and oil ministries _ among other unfilled posts _ in temporary hands.

Approval of the Cabinet Thursday was followed by an onslaught of bombings in the capital and elsewhere.

On Saturday night, Sheikh Kamal Faisal, a local government official and member of the Association of Muslim Scholars, was arrested at his home during raids by Iraqi security forces in the southern city of Basra, police said. The association is an influential coalition of Sunni clerics believed to have links with insurgents.

Yousif al-Hassan, the association’s head in Basra, denounced the arrest, saying Sunday that it was part of a campaign targeting Sunni officials in the mostly Shiite city. He said Faisal had previously joined the association in opposing any attacks against Iraqi security forces.

Hassan, 59, who also held Irish and Iraqi citizenship, was kidnapped on her way to work in Baghdad on Oct. 19. Her captors later issued videos showing her pleading for British Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw troops from Iraq and calling for the release of female Iraqi prisoners.

On Nov. 16, the Arab satellite television station Al-Jazeera said it had received a video showing a hooded militant shooting a blindfolded woman in the head. British officials said they believed the woman in the video was Hassan, and her family said they believed she was dead. However, no body was recovered.

Hassan had lived in Iraq for 30 years and was married to an Iraqi. She was renowned for her work distributing food, medicine and supplies to Iraqis suffering under the sanctions of the 1990s.

Also Sunday, the Italian government said its own report on the killing of an Italian intelligence agent by U.S. soldiers in Baghdad will shed light on problems of coordination with authorities in Iraq and with rules of engagement for checkpoints.

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