Over 40 killed in Baghdad blasts
Ninety-five others were hurt when a huge car bomb ripped apart a market in Baghdad's Sadr City Shi'ite slum.india Updated: Mar 13, 2006 10:44 IST
A suicide bomber and a huge car bomb ripped apart a market in Baghdad's Sadr City Shi'ite slum shortly before sundown on Sunday, killing over 40 and wounding 95, police Lt Thair Mahmoud said.
Four mortar rounds reportedly slammed to earth nearby.
The death toll was sure to rise as residents, many firing Kalashnikov rifles into the air, race to and fro to collect charred corpses from among burning vehicles and shops.
Angry residents kicked the head of the suicide bomber, an African, as it lay in the street of the Hay market in the east Baghdad neighbourhood.
Sirens wailed as ambulances raced to and from the scene. Smoke billowed into the air and fires continued to burn. Many shops were totally demolished by the huge explosions.
Mahmoud said police were attempting to defuse a second explosives-laden car nearby.
On March 4, Gen John Abizaid, chief of the US Central Command predicted just such an attack by terrorists trying to spark an all-out civil war in the country.
"I expect we'll see another attack in the near future on another symbol," he said.
"They'll find some other place that's undefended, they'll strike it and they'll hope for more sectarian violence," the general said after a two-day visit to Baghdad.
He was speaking after the February 22 bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in Samarra that set in motion more than a week of sectarian violence in which hundreds were killed in revenge attacks. Dozens of Sunni mosques were damaged or destroyed.
"The shrine bombing exposed a lot of sectarian fissures that have been apparent for a while, but it was the first time I've seen it move in a direction that was unhelpful to the political process," Abizaid said at the time.
"It shows that we need a government of national unity to emerge in Iraq. Too many delays in the formation of a national unity government will negatively affect the security situation."
US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad met for 90 minutes earlier on Sunday with leaders of all of Iraq's many political factions. They emerged to announced the date for the first session of parliament had been moved up by three days to Thursday.
However, there was no sign of progress in overcoming the deep divisions among political leaders over forming the unity government to which Abizaid referred.