By Bassam Sebti and Saad Sarhan
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, May 8, 2006
BAGHDAD, May 7 -- A series of car bomb attacks in Baghdad and the Shiite Muslim holy city of Karbala killed about 30 Iraqis early Sunday, police and witnesses said, while an Interior Ministry source reported that 51 bodies had been found in the capital since Saturday morning.
An attacker detonated a car bomb at an Iraqi army checkpoint in the Sunni Arab neighborhood of Adhamiyah in northern Baghdad, killing at least six Iraqi soldiers and three civilians, hospital and Defense Ministry officials said.
Shrapnel and blood covered the area, near the Ibn al-Haitham College of Education. At least four vehicles were damaged.
"It happened just as I was entering the college. I felt the heat reaching my body and shrapnel falling on me," said Yasmine Ahmed, 23, a student who sustained injuries to her face and an arm.
The main neighborhood hospital received three bodies and treated 19 wounded people, officials said. Others with casualties were taken to another hospital, witnesses said.
Also in northern Baghdad, a suicide bomber apparently targeting a police patrol blew himself up near the headquarters of the state-sponsored al-Sabah newspaper, in the Waziriya neighborhood. One civilian was killed and six were wounded, according to Col. Abdul Aziz al-Nuaimi, an Interior Ministry official.
In Karbala, about 60 miles southwest of the capital, a bomber apparently targeting the Shiite Ahl al-Bait mosque set off his explosives when his car became snarled in heavy traffic, witnesses said. Several cars were destroyed in the blast, just half a mile from the Imam al-Hussein and Imam al-Abbas shrines.
Witnesses said more than 20 people were killed. However, the director of the main hospital in Karbala said three civilians were killed and 23 were wounded.
The Interior Ministry source said the 51 bodies found in the capital were all handcuffed, blindfolded and shot in the head and abdomen.
In other violence Sunday, a U.S. Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Logistics Group died of wounds suffered during fighting in the western province of Anbar, the military said.
In Kirkuk, 160 miles north of Baghdad, gunmen kidnapped an Iraqi army officer as he was heading to work, according to Col. Sherzad Abdullah of the Kirkuk police. His whereabouts remained unknown.
Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, was calm Sunday, a day after a helicopter crash touched off clashes between residents and British troops, the Associated Press reported. Five Iraqis were killed in the fighting, and several British troops were injured. The British Defense Ministry said "up to five" British personnel were killed in the crash but have not confirmed reports that the helicopter was shot down.
In the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 90 miles south of Baghdad, Suhaila Abed Jaafar, the minister for migration and the displaced, updated Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on the displacement caused by recent turmoil.
The minister later told reporters that "14,750 Sunni and Shiite families were displaced from all over Iraq" after the February bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra. She said Sistani stressed "the necessity of the return of these families to their areas after providing security to these areas."
Sarhan reported from Karbala. Special correspondent Salih Saif Aldin contributed to this report.