Car bomb kills at least 6 in Iraq

Hundreds mourn victims of Baratha mosque bombing

leaders plead for calm, unity

April 09, 2006|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

BAGHDAD, Iraq --A car bomb tore through a street crowded with pedestrians and vendors in Musayyib, a predominantly Shiite town, yesterday, authorities said, killing at least six people, wounding 21 and stoking sectarian tensions in Iraq.

The attack followed two others last week against major symbols of Shiite Islam, killing more than 80 and prompting political leaders to appeal for calm and unity.

Shortly before the attack yesterday, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the country's dominant Shiite political bloc, urged Shiites to resist attempts by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, to ignite a civil war. He called for Iraqis of all ethnicities and sects to rally together against the threat.

"This nation will not fall into the trap of sectarian war that is being pursued by Zarqawi's groups," he told hundreds of followers who gathered outside his political headquarters in Baghdad, Reuters reported.

Hundreds of mourners marched through Shiite neighborhoods of the capital yesterday in funeral corteges for the victims of a triple suicide bombing at the Baratha mosque on Friday that killed at least 71.

The Baratha mosque, in northern Baghdad, remained closed to worshipers yesterday as workers continued cleaning the building. An air of hopeless dread had settled over the neighborhood.

"We were afraid of going out and walking in the streets," said Um Raed, 40, the owner of a beauty salon. "I decided to close the shop and go away from this place and visit my sister so that I can sort of refresh myself of all this sadness. I cannot bear this atmosphere anymore."

That mosque bombing followed a car bomb Thursday that killed at least 10 people in Najaf.

Musayyib is a poor industrial town that lies at the line between the predominantly Shiite south and a Sunni Arab insurgent stronghold south of Baghdad.

Insurgents have occasionally launched attacks against residents and Shiite militias there. In July, in one of the biggest suicide attacks since the invasion, a man wrapped in explosives blew himself up under a fuel tanker parked in the center of the town, igniting a fireball that killed at least 71 people and wounded at least 156.

The police first reported that yesterday's attack in Musayyib was directed at an important Shiite mosque but later retracted that account. The blast, which also wounded at least 21 people, was about two miles away from the mosque.

Top leaders in the dominant Shiite alliance are scheduled to meet today to discuss the bloc's selection of Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister in the next government, according to Redha Jowad Taki, a leader in the alliance. Al-Jaafari's nomination has generated widespread opposition and has become the single biggest hindrance to political talks.

Police recovered the bodies of 11 victims of killings around the country yesterday, officials said. Seven of the bodies were found in three Baghdad neighborhoods, according to an Interior Ministry official. The other four, all Iraqi contractors employed on a U.S. military base near Tikrit, were found in the district of Hamreen, between Tikrit and Kirkuk.

A homemade bomb exploded next to a Shiite family's house in the neighborhood of Sadoun, in central Baghdad, killing two men inside the house, family members said. The family had recently fled their old home in the Dora neighborhood because of violence and were seeking a safer life.

The U.S. military announced yesterday that a Marine had died "from wounds sustained due to enemy action" in Anbar province. Officials gave no further details.

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