MOSUL, Iraq, March 10 -- A suicide bomber blew himself up Thursday during a funeral at a Shiite mosque in this northern city, killing 47 people and injuring more than 100, witnesses and local hospital officials said.
They said the 5:30 p.m. blast occurred at the al-Shahidain al-Sadir Mosque when a man detonated an explosives belt he was wearing in a tent next to the mosque where mourners were gathering for dinner. Television footage showed white plastic chairs overturned and personal effects scattered on a dirt floor covered with blood.
Kadim Obais clutches the shoe of his brother, Lt. Col. Ahmed Obais, a Baghdad police official shot dead in his pickup.
(Khalid Mohammed -- AP)
Iraq War Deaths|
Total number of U.S. military deaths and names of the U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war as announced by the Pentagon yesterday:
In hostile actions: 1,151
In non-hostile actions: 355
Sgt. Seth K. Garceau, 27, of Oelwein, Iowa; Army National Guard's 224th Engineer Battalion, 155th Brigade Combat Team, based in Fairfield, Iowa. Died March 4 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany of injuries received in combat in Ramadi.
Total fatalities include four civilian employees of the Defense Department.
A full list of casualties is available online at www.washingtonpost.com/nation
SOURCE: Defense Department's www.defenselink.mil/newsThe Washington Post
"As we were inside the mosque, we saw a ball of fire and heard a huge explosion," Tahir Abdullah Sultan, 45, told the Associated Press. "After that, blood and pieces of flesh were scattered around the place."
Mosul, one of the largest cities in Iraq, has been a center of sectarian strife and the site of numerous assassinations of security officials and other killings, including a suicide bombing in a U.S. military mess tent on Dec. 21 that killed 22 people, including 15 American service members. A mainly Sunni Arab and Kurdish city, its population also includes Christians, Shiites and Sunni Turks.
Earlier Thursday, police in Mosul uncovered a mass grave containing 31 bodies, adding to a toll of about 40 decapitated and executed people found at two other locations in Iraq on Wednesday, a senior Iraqi police official said.
The bodies were discovered in a common grave at the Wadi Egab Cemetery, according to an Iraqi police general who commands a special antiterrorism unit called al-Theeb, or "the wolf." He said police were led to the grave by a former police lieutenant, Shoqayer Fareed Sheet, who confessed on Iraqi television Wednesday night to killing 113 people.
The police commander, who because of the sensitivity of his job is publicly identified only by the informal name Abu Waleed, said the bodies were believed to be those of civilians, police officers and army soldiers who had been tortured and killed by Sheet, a Sunni Muslim, to obtain information that was turned over to Sunni insurgent groups.
Thursday's bombing occurred at a funeral for Hashim Mahmoud Aaraji, a well-known religious figure in Mosul and a professor at Mosul University.
Muhammed Hussein Hakim, the son of and spokesman for Muhammed Said Hakim, one of Iraq's top Shiite religious leaders, condemned the bombing in a statement that urged political leaders to "quicken the process of forming a new government" to help combat violence.
"It is very strange that all the attacks are targeting the Shiites," the statement said. "Regrettably, these attacks are increasing because of the delay in forming the government."
Shiite Arab and Kurdish leaders continued negotiations Thursday over an agreement that would pave the way for the formation of a new government, sources on both sides said. Major progress has been made in recent days, they said, but crucial details still have to be worked out.
Some of the issues being discussed include the integration of the Kurdish militia into Iraq's armed forces; how decisions in the cabinet will be made; and the future of Kirkuk, a Kurdish city that was repopulated with Arabs during Saddam Hussein's rule. The discussions also have focused on the Islamic character of the future government.
"We have reached a preliminary agreement on principles and policies" to guide the new government, said Barham Salih, a Kurd who is deputy prime minister in the outgoing interim government. "But there need to be more specific details to this agreement before it becomes a formal agreement between both sides."
Salih said the negotiating teams from both sides would consult with their leaders over the next few days to resolve those details.