Bomber Targets Iraqi Police Post

By Naseer Nouri and Omar Fekeiki
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, July 25, 2005

BAGHDAD, July 25 -- A suicide bomber, blocked by a traffic jam from reaching his intended target, a police station in Baghdad, exploded a truck laden with explosives on the busy street outside Sunday, killing at least 22 people and wounding 30, Iraqi officials said.

A U.S. military statement put the death toll at 40, citing Iraqi police, and said the bomber used 500 pounds of explosives.

The target was the Rashad police station in eastern Baghdad, but heavy mid-afternoon traffic blocked the attacker's path, said Abud Radhi, a police officer. The attacker detonated the explosives 10 feet from the sand barriers surrounding the station, hurtling and burning dozens of cars.

The victims, some of whose burned, mangled bodies lay in the street in a lake of blood and water from fire hoses, were all civilians, police said.

"Not one of the police was wounded or killed," Radhi said. "But I wish that we would die and not the civilians. These are innocent people. We are fighting the terrorists, not them."

Victims included drivers, passengers and people in the houses, mosque and auto-repair shops near the police station.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari told reporters after a meeting of top officials in Baghdad on new ways to stop the violence that the ideas discussed included broadening a campaign of raids and arrests in Baghdad, called Operation Lightning, to other cities. He said extremist attacks were no longer a problem only in Iraq.

"Not just Iraq, but the whole world is under terrorist attacks," he said. "This is an international crisis. It happens not just in the Arab world, but in Britain, Turkey. Terrorism is today like a disease. . . . The root of the terrorism that affects Iraq was grown outside the country."

A man who identified himself as Ahmad said "the window glass was like bullets" after the truck bomb went off. He had pulled his wounded son from under the shattered glass of their home and said three construction workers working next door had been killed.

"We are all okay," said Adnad Khazraji, who lives nearby, as blood streamed down his neck. "But I found a head and a limb in my yard."

"Operation Lightning, Operation Dagger -- every day they use a different name for a new military operation," Khazraji said, ticking off recent U.S.-backed military raids against insurgents. "But the attacks killing mostly civilians increase every day. I don't know who they are arresting -- either they are arresting the wrong people, or the number of terrorists in Iraq is so big now they can't control it."

Jafari accused people in other countries of ignoring the suffering of Iraqis, especially children. He cited a July 13 bombing that killed at least 26 children in Baghdad as they gathered around U.S. soldiers handing out candy.

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