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Car Bomb Kills Nine At Shiite Mosque

Execution Shown In Video on Internet

By Ellen Knickmeyer and Bassam Sebti
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page A14

BAGHDAD, April 22 -- Worshipers gathered the remains of children from pools of blood on the tile floor of a Shiite Muslim mosque Friday after a bombing killed at least nine people in the latest fighting under an Iraqi leadership preoccupied with forming a new government.

Political leaders have promised daily that they would reach an accord on a new government within 24 hours. But on Friday, they made no such promise as they continued haggling.

Iraqis inspect the site of a car-bomb explosion at a mosque in east Baghdad. At least nine people died. (Wathiq Khuzaie -- Getty Images)

Sources close to the talks indicated early Saturday that major gaps remained among the Shiite, Kurdish, Sunni and secular interests working to form the national-unity administration. A U.S. official, speaking to reporters, urged the Iraqi politicians to close the deal, pointing out that they had to turn their attention to the insurgency.

Meanwhile, a video apparently filmed by insurgents and posted on Web sites Friday showed the last moments in the life of a man injured in the downing of a helicopter Thursday before insurgents shot him dead.

Bombings and other attacks have surged in number, lethality and boldness this month, although the country has yet to see a return of the kind of attacks that each killed scores of people before the elections.

The bombing on Friday was one of many targeting the Shiite majority, which has become politically dominant since President Saddam Hussein and the Sunni Muslims he favored were routed in March 2003.

As Shiite worshipers gathered for Friday prayers and a funeral, witnesses said, a car packed with bombs exploded behind the mosque in east Baghdad. The blast killed at least nine people, according to an emergency room doctor, Amal Shakir, and witnesses. At least two children were among those killed, witnesses said.

Blood mixed with water streamed from a destroyed room used for ritual washing before prayer, pooling in the mosque and in the street outside.

"I accuse the Sunni Iraqis, not the Arabs," said one survivor, Ammar Mohammed, using the term Iraqis call foreign insurgents. "Because the Arabs blow themselves up with their cars, while this was done by an Iraqi Sunni coward, who left his car and ran away."

"Oh, my God! Do you accept what they do in your house?" Taha Mulazim, 68, cried out in pain as he waited for treatment at a hospital. His legs and right arm were filled with shrapnel from the bombing.

"These terrorists are killing the innocent," Mulazim said, with his wife by his side. "Who accepts that? God? His Prophet?"

Videos posted on Web sites purported to show a chartered Soviet-made helicopter careening to the ground in flames after allegedly being shot down by a missile Thursday north of Baghdad. The downing of the helicopter, the first involving a civilian flight, killed the 11 foreigners aboard, including six American security contractors.

The video, which was apparently filmed by insurgents but has not been authenticated, showed gunmen accompanied by a cameraman making their way through chest-high grass, then looking down on a man lying flat in the weeds. The man's clothing reportedly matched the outfit worn by the flight's Bulgarian crew, another U.S. official said.

As the man looked up, one of the finders said, "Look at this filth." When the gunmen ordered him in English to stand up, the man held out his hand and asked for help, saying his leg was broken.

The gunmen told him to "go, go."

As the man pulled himself upright and walked away, one of the men barked, "Carry out the order of God." The survivor turned back toward the gunmen and raised a hand, as the insurgents opened fire, shooting again each time he collapsed and moved.

Other videos aired on al-Jazeera television showed three Romanian journalists and an Iraqi American translator who were kidnapped together in February. The Romanians -- two men and a women -- sat with their hands chained. A separate video showed the translator sitting cross-legged, with two captors holding guns to his head. An Iraqi group threatened to kill all four captives unless Romanian troops left Iraq within four days, al-Jazeera reported.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb killed a U.S. soldier near the northern city of Tall Afar, the military said. On Thursday, a U.S. Marine died in a non-hostile incident at Camp Delta, near Karmah, west of Baghdad, the military said. It gave no details.

Iraqi political leaders met for the latest round of talks, which stretched into the night as they tried to agree on a slate for about 30 cabinet seats. Shiites won the most seats in the 275-seat assembly in the January elections, with Kurds holding the second-largest bloc.

Kurdish politicians have pushed for strong representation for secular interests and Sunnis, who largely boycotted the elections. Some Iraqis say inclusion of Sunnis in the government is vital for defusing the insurgency.

The prime minister-designate, Ibrahim Jafari, a Shiite, has until the first week of May to try to bring talks to a close or risk seeing the assignment of forming a government turned over to another candidate.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company