String of Explosions Kills 50 in Iraq

Iraqi soldiers examine wreckage left by a car bomb in Baghdad. Explosions rocked the Adhamiyah neighborhood in quick succession Friday.
Iraqi soldiers examine wreckage left by a car bomb in Baghdad. Explosions rocked the Adhamiyah neighborhood in quick succession Friday. (By Hadi Mizban -- Associated Press)
By Naseer Nouri and Bassam Sebti
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, April 30, 2005

BAGHDAD, April 29 -- After four waves of bombs, suicide attacks and mortars detonated Friday in the Adhamiyah neighborhood in the capital, a woman trapped in a charred, overturned van and cradling an infant in her arms screamed for help. But help was slow in coming. Security forces in some areas held back ambulances for more than an hour, fearful of more explosions aimed at rescuers.

The grim scene highlighted a deadly, developing tactic of Iraq's insurgency -- setting off bombs in waves, killing not only people near the first blast but also those who come to try to save them and the wounded in second and third rounds of attacks.

Across the country Friday, insurgents unleashed at least 13 mortar, bomb and suicide car bomb attacks against Iraq's national forces and their U.S. allies, killing at least 50 people, including three American soldiers.

It was the deadliest day in Iraq since early February. Many of the attacks were aimed initially at Iraqi and U.S. police and soldiers on patrol or resting, with secondary bombs killing those who rushed to save them.

"I never expected to see what I saw today," said Zaid Najjar, who watched from his apartment, trapped with his wounded children, as four rounds of bombs and mortar blasts devastated Adhamiyah within half an hour. Fires set by the bombs still burned around Najjar as he spoke.

"What hurt me was a National Guardsman who lost his leg and was trying to walk with one leg. He was crying, and screaming out of pain," Najjar said, also recalling the screaming woman, the corpses of civilians and Guard members, and the despair of survivors.

Laith Kubba, a spokesman for the new prime minister, Ibrahim Jafari, said, "This will just increase our determination to move forward and leave these people behind." He added, "This is a message from insurgents to the nation, trying to distract them from the biggest achievement Iraq has had in 50 years: an elected government."

The attackers were "trying to push them back to the days where sheer despair and terror were the norm in Iraq," he said.

Jafari, still awaiting his formal swearing-in, spoke briefly to Arabic-language television to send condolences to families of the dead and ask Iraqis to stand behind their new army and police.

Iraqi leaders said former members of Saddam Hussein's government were working alongside Jordanian insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi and other foreign fighters.

An audio message allegedly made by Zarqawi and released Friday on a radical Islamic Web site promised more attacks. "You, Bush, we will not rest until we avenge our dignity," the man on the recording said. "We will not rest while your army is here as long as there is a pulse in our veins."

The day's violence included four rapid-fire attacks in Najjar's neighborhood, targeting police and Iraqi National Guard patrols and a restaurant where security forces were gathered for breakfast. The explosions came minutes apart.

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