Blast in Baghdad Market Kills Dozens
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
BAGHDAD, June 17 -- Dozens of people were killed Tuesday evening when a car loaded with explosives blew up at a crowded market in northwestern Baghdad, the deadliest attack in the capital since March.
The attack killed 46 people and wounded more than 80, according to an Interior Ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The U.S. military put the death toll at 27.
The explosives, strapped onto a Kia pickup truck, detonated shortly before 6 p.m., set two buildings on fire, trapped residents in apartments and ravaged several shops in the Hurriyah market, which is frequented by women and children.
Salam Hashim, 28, a clothing merchant at the market, said he was in his shop when the blast occurred. As he hobbled outside, making his way through piles of shattered glass and rubble, he saw smoldering bodies and scores of wounded people lying on the ground.
"Many people were screaming," Hashim said. "They were cursing al-Qaeda in Iraq and the security forces because they were not there to protect their lives."
Iraqi and U.S. officials said they did not know who was responsible for the attack. It was reminiscent of other large bombings at markets in predominantly Shiite areas that have been attributed to Sunni insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Mass casualty bombings, which were routine last year, had become rare in Baghdad in recent months as an influx of Iraqi and U.S. troops succeeded in reducing violence and disarming extremists.
In March, about 90 people were killed in two bombings targeting markets.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office issued a statement Tuesday night calling the Hurriyah bombing an "ugly crime" committed by "monsters."
The statement said the attackers were trying to exacerbate "sectarian strife to uplift the fallen spirits of their assistants after continuous defeats in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul," where U.S. and Iraqi forces have pursued insurgents aggressively. "This crime will increase our efforts to rescue the capital and the other provinces of terrorists, murderers and outlaws," the statement added.
Three of Hashim's friends, who were working a few feet from him, were killed, he said.
"I feel very tired, physically and emotionally," he said Tuesday night in a phone interview. "I don't want to eat. I just want to smoke. I feel very tired and sad. They were very close to me."