- The Washington Times - Monday, May 2, 2005

BAGHDAD — A car bomb obliterated a tent packed with mourners at the funeral of a Kurdish official in northern Iraq yesterday, killing 25 persons and wounding more than 50 in the single deadliest attack since terrorists started bearing down on Iraq’s newly named government last week.

The blast capped four exceedingly violent days in which at least 116 persons, including 11 Americans, were killed by insurgents who are thought mainly to be members of the disaffected Sunni Arab minority.

At least six other car bombs — one of them a suicide attack — and four roadside explosions hit Baghdad yesterday, killing six Iraqis and wounding more than 20 civilians and five U.S. soldiers.

The car-bomb attack occurred in Tal Afar, 93 miles east of the Syrian border, the U.S. military and a provincial official said. Mourners had gathered for the funeral of Sayed Talib Sayed Wahab, an official of the Kurdish Democratic Party, said deputy provincial governor and party spokesman Khusru Goran, speaking from nearby Mosul.

Mr. Goran said a car plowed into the funeral tent and exploded, but the U.S. military said it was not a suicide attack. At least 25 persons were killed and more than 50 were wounded, the U.S. military said.

U.S. troops, Iraqi police and ambulances raced to the carnage, but gunmen blocked the road and fighting broke out, Mr. Goran said.

Also yesterday, terrorists released a video purporting to show Iraq’s latest foreign hostage — an Australian married to an American and living in the San Francisco area. Douglas Wood, 63, was shown seated between two masked militants pointing automatic weapons at him.

His wife, Pearl, said that she had seen the tape and that the man being held was her husband. She said he had been in Iraq about 18 months, working as an engineer.

In the videotape announcing his capture, Mr. Wood appealed to President Bush, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to order coalition forces out of Iraq.

“My captors are fiercely patriotic. They believe in a strong united Iraq looking after its own destiny,” Mr. Wood said on the tape.

A militant group calling itself the Shura Council of the Mujahedeen of Iraq claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

Mr. Howard said he would not negotiate with Mr. Wood’s captors. “We can’t have the foreign policy of this country dictated by terrorists,” the prime minister told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Most of the recent violence is thought to be the work of Sunni Arabs, who were dominant for decades under dictator Saddam Hussein but were mainly shut out of the new government that was announced Thursday.

U.S. and Iraqi officials had hoped to dent support for the militants by including members of the Sunni Arab minority in a new Shi’ite-dominated Cabinet that will be sworn in tomorrow.

However, the lineup named by incoming Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari after months of political wrangling excluded Sunnis from meaningful positions and left the key defense and oil ministries — among other unfilled posts — in temporary hands.

Despite the violence, Iraq’s national security adviser said yesterday the fledgling government was making progress against the militants.

“There is no shadow of doubt in my mind that by the end of the year, we would have achieved a lot,” Mouwafak al-Rubaie said in an interview with CNN’s “Late Edition.” “Probably, the back of the insurgency has already been broken.”

The British Foreign Office yesterday announced three arrests in the abduction of a British aid worker thought to have been slain last year, saying they were made after an early morning sweep of an insurgent area 15 miles south of Baghdad.

An intelligence official with the Iraqi Interior Ministry said five Iraqi suspects were apprehended and confessed to a role in killing Margaret Hassan, the director of CARE International in Iraq. Martin Cronin, first secretary at the British Embassy in Baghdad, said he was not aware of any confessions.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide