Two car bombs and a roadside bomb exploded near a crowd in the al-Amel neighborhood. The residents had gathered to celebrate the opening of a new water and sewage plant as an American convoy passed by. Hospitals reported the deaths of 34 children, the highest toll of children since the conflict in Iraq started 17 months ago. At least 10 American soldiers were also injured.
“The attack was carried out by evil people who do not want the Iraqis to celebrate and don’t want (construction) projects in Iraq,” Iraqi National Guard Lieutenant Ahmad Saad told the Associated Press.
Hours earlier, a suicide car bomber drove into a U.S. military checkpoint in the Abu Ghraib district of Baghdad, near the notorious prison, killing one American soldier and two Iraqi policemen, and wounding 10 Iraqis.
In the northern city of Tal Afar, a car bomb aimed at the police chief killed at least four people and wounded 16 U.S. and Iraqi officials. The police chief was not injured.
“This despicable act killed not only a multinational forces soldier, but Iraqis who were merely going about their business of defending this country,” Col. Jim Hutton of the US 1st Cavalry Division said in a statement. “The terrorists offer nothing but destruction.”
Thursday’s attacks on U.S. and Iraqi security forces come as part of an upsurge in violence that officials worry will increase in the lead up to U.S. elections in November, and Iraqi elections planned for January.
Meanwhile, the United States pulled off a successful raid of a suspected terrorist safehouse in Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim stronghold west of the capital. The military said intelligence reports indicated followers of Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were using the house to plan attacks against U.S.-led forces and Iraqi citizens.
At least four Iraqis were killed and eight were wounded in the raid said Dr. Ahmed Khalil of the Fallujah General Hospital.
According to the military statement, “significant secondary explosions” were seen during the impact, indicating that a large collection of illegal arms was stored in the safehouse. Explosions continued for hours.
Also Thursday, the Arab news network Al-Jazeera showed video of 10 new hostages seized by militants in Iraq. Al-Jazeera said the captives — six Iraqis, two Lebanese and two Indonesian women — were taken by the Islamic Army in Iraq. The group claimed responsibility for seizing two French journalists last month. There was no mention of demands or where the hostages were abducted. Al-Jazeera said the 10 were employees of an electricity company.