Bombings Across Iraq Kill More Than 50 People

A bombing near a cafe frequented by workers in a mostly Shiite area of north Baghdad killed at least five people.
A bombing near a cafe frequented by workers in a mostly Shiite area of north Baghdad killed at least five people. (By Wathiq Khuzaie -- Getty Images)
By Ellen Knickmeyer and Naseer Nouri
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, May 24, 2005

BAGHDAD, May 23 -- Bombings targeting U.S. and Iraqi forces and Shiite Arab civilians at worship, at lunch, at home and on the road killed more than 50 people across Iraq on Monday, officials said, heightening sectarian tensions and taking the death toll past 600 since a new government was installed less than a month ago.

Iraq's Shiite-led administration, meanwhile, tried to portray itself as taking control of security. Iraqi television aired extended broadcasts of the trial of three accused insurgents facing the death penalty, and a new music video introduced on state TV featured Abul Waleed, commander of a feared police commando unit, saying: "We will cut off the arms" of terrorists.

The U.S. military reported the deaths of five American troops Sunday -- three killed in two attacks in Mosul and a fourth killed in a car bombing in Tikrit, north of Baghdad. Another soldier died in a vehicle accident near Kirkuk, the military said.

Monday's violence followed a lull in bombings that lasted several days and the first significant overtures this weekend by Sunni Arab leaders to end a Sunni boycott of politics that had lasted more than two years.

Iraq's disgruntled Sunni minority, which long dominated the country's political and military leadership but was ousted from power along with Saddam Hussein in early 2003, has been at the forefront of the insurgency. Americans and Iraqis have hoped that drawing Sunnis into the new political process would quell the violence, but the issue remains unresolved. Insurgent attacks have intensified since the government of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari took office at the end of April.

In the deadliest of Monday's attacks, two bombings killed 30 people in the volatile northern town of Tall Afar, hospital officials said.

The first bomb exploded late Monday outside the home of a Shiite tribal leader, according to an emergency room director who identified himself only as Haidar and a hospital director who said his name was Saleh. A second bomb exploded as crowds gathered to help the wounded from the first blast, the medical officials said. The second bomb claimed most of the victims.

Another car bomb exploded late Monday outside a Shiite mosque at Mahmudiyah, about 15 miles south of Baghdad. The attack killed at least 10 people and injured 30, the Associated Press quoted hospital officials as saying.

At lunchtime, a car bomb exploded outside a cafe frequented by workers in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of north Baghdad, killing at least five people, hospital officials said.

The bomb was detonated by remote control, police said. While the intended targets appeared to have been police who also gather at the cafe, witnesses said the victims were civilians.

"I swear to God, I will not enter any restaurant if I see any policemen sitting there," laborer Saleem Nima said in a street littered with metal shards and body parts. Shopkeepers were already sweeping up shattered glass.

"There is no safe place in Baghdad, not even your bedroom," Nima said.

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