- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2005

BAGHDAD — Bombers killed 42 persons yesterday at a Baghdad restaurant favored by police and at an army recruiting center to the north, while Iraqi troops along the Iranian border found 27 decomposing bodies, victims of the grisly violence plaguing the country.

In the deadliest bombing in Baghdad since Sept. 17, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a restaurant about 9:45 a.m., when officers usually stop in for breakfast. Police said 35 officers and civilians died and 25 were wounded.

Al Qaeda in Iraq said in an Internet posting that it staged the attack in retaliation for U.S. and Iraqi operations near the Syrian border. Earlier, it took responsibility for Wednesday night’s deadly hotel bombings in neighboring Jordan, linking those blasts to the conflict in Iraq.

Samiya Mohammed, who lives near the restaurant, said she rushed out when she heard the explosion. She said no Americans were in the area.

The blast was the deadliest since a car bomb ripped through a market Sept. 17 in a poor Shi’ite Muslim neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Baghdad, killing at least 30 persons and wounding 38.

Police first reported that two bombers struck the restaurant because some witnesses had heard two blasts. Later, police said the suicide attacker had carried a bomb in a satchel and also wore an explosives belt and that the two detonated independently.

Yesterday’s other big attack came in former dictator Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, 80 miles north of the capital, where a car bomb blew up in the middle of a group of men outside an Iraqi army recruiting center. Seven were killed and 13 wounded, police said.

The men were officers during Saddam’s regime, police said.

Last week, Iraq’s defense minister invited officers of Saddam’s army up to the rank of major to enlist in the new Iraqi army. It was an overture to disaffected Sunni Arab former soldiers, many of whom joined the insurgency after the Americans abolished the Iraqi armed forces in 2003.

In another sign of the country’s sectarian and criminal violence, Iraqi soldiers found 27 decomposing bodies near Jassan, a town close to the border with Iran.

The area is a known dumping ground for such groups of bodies, which turn up with regularity in Iraq. Officials suspect that death squads from the Shi’ite majority, the Sunni minority and criminal gangs are responsible for the killings.

At least 566 bodies have been found, 204 of them in Baghdad, since Iraq’s interim government was formed April 28, according to an Associated Press count.

In western Iraq, U.S. officials said Operation Steel Curtain was moving out of the town of Husaybah to the village of Karabilah, a militant stronghold on the Syrian border. The six-day-old operation aims to secure the area that U.S. commanders suspect is used to smuggle foreign fighters and weapons into Iraq.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a senior officer in Iraq, told reporters that U.S. and Iraqi troops in Husaybah killed 37 insurgents, arrested 165 suspects and found 28 weapons caches.

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