- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 25, 2007

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber struck soccer fans celebrating Iraq’s victory in the Asian Cup today, killing at least 11 persons and wounding 31, police said.

The victims were among the thousands who took to the streets of the capital after the country’s national soccer team beat South Korea to reach the tournament’s final.

The man detonated his explosives belt in the middle of a crowd of people cheering the victory near a well-known ice cream shop in Baghdad’s western neighborhood of Mansour, police said. Police and hospital officials gave the casualty toll, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give information to the media.

Thousands of fans also gathered in the central district of Karradah to celebrate dancing, beating drums and chanting Iraq, Iraq. Elsewhere in city, traffic snarled as cars, Iraqi flags flying from their windows, moved slowly amid hundreds of fans. Motorists honked their horns.

More than an hour after Iraqi goalkeeper Noor Sabri made the crucial save to win the match, gunfire could still be heard in many parts of the capital.

State television broadcast a warning from the Iraqi military urging residents not to engage in celebratory gunfire, but the warning appeared to have been ignored. Preliminary police reports said one person was killed and 17 wounded by the gunfire.

Five persons were killed in the celebratory gunfire that followed Iraq’s win over Vietnam in a quarterfinal match played in Bangkok on Sunday.

Iraq and South Korea played to a scoreless draw through 90 minutes of regulation time and 30 minutes of extra time in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, but Iraq won a penalty shootout 4-3 to advance to Sunday’s final in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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