- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2005

MOSUL, Iraq — A suicide bomber blew himself up in the courtyard of a Shi’ite mosque during a funeral yesterday, killing at least 47 persons and wounding more than 100.

U.S. troops cordoned off the northeastern Tameem neighborhood near the mosque, a poor area of the city crowded with many homes. Civilian vehicles helped ambulance crews ferry casualties to hospitals.

“As we were inside the mosque, we saw a ball of fire and heard a huge explosion,” said Tahir Abdullah Sultan, 45. “After that, blood and pieces of flesh were scattered around the place.”

The attack came as Iraq’s main Shi’ite alliance and a Kurdish bloc said they reached a deal that sets the stage for a new government to be formed.

The two groups are to sign an agreement this weekend clearing the way for the country’s first freely elected National Assembly to convene next week, Iraqi officials said yesterday.

With violence in Iraq returning to pre-election levels, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned the Iraqi leadership and American military yesterday to take care not to step on the civil liberties of an increasingly frustrated population while fighting to crush the revitalized insurgency.

He also said in his report that the scale and sophistication of insurgent attacks were increasing, worrying signs as Iraq’s new leaders prepare to take power.

The suicide bomber killed at least 47 persons and wounded more than 100, said Dr. Saher Maher, speaking from a hospital in Mosul.

He said U.S. troops took 10 “very critical” patients to a military medical facility at their base nearby.

Terrorists, who are predominantly Sunni Muslims, in the past have targeted Shi’ite mosques and funerals.

The U.S. military unit that controls the area could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mosul has been a hotbed of insurgent activity and the scene of many bombings, assassinations and drive-by shootings aimed at the country’s security services, Iraq’s Shi’ite majority and people thought to be working with U.S.-led forces.

In other violence, gunmen yesterday killed two district police chiefs and two other Iraqis in attacks in Baghdad. Also, an accountant working for a Kurdish television station was killed in northern Iraq.

Assailants riding in two cars opened fire on a pickup truck carrying Col. Ahmed Abeis, the head of Salihiyah police in western Baghdad, killing him, his driver and a guard, police Col. Khazim Abbas said.

The white truck could be seen on the side of a road in Baghdad’s Salihiyah neighborhood, its windows shattered and bullet-ridden. Weeping, a brother of Col. Abeis picked up a shoe from the back of the blood-smeared vehicle.

In an Internet statement, a group claiming to be al Qaeda in Iraq took responsibility for an attack in the same area on “an intelligence officer who used to investigate the Mujahideen and hurt them.” The authenticity of the statement could not be verified.

In a separate attack, gunmen also killed the police chief of Jisr Diyala in southeast Baghdad, Col. Ayad Abdul-Razaq, a police officer said on the condition of anonymity.

In the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, gunmen killed an accountant working for KurdSat TV, Brig. Saraht Qadir said. The television station belongs to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of two main Kurdish parties.

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