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Scores Killed in Mosque, Hotel Attacks in Iraq

The suicide bombers attacked the crowded Sheik Murad mosque and the Khanaqin Grand Mosque in Khanaqin, 90 miles northeast of Baghdad, during morning prayers.

The police commanders said 74 people were killed and 75 wounded in the largely Kurdish town, according to the Associated Press. People were still searching the rubble of the three-story Khanaqin Grand Mosque for survivors at sunset.

The suicide attacker walked into the mosque and detonated his explosives, a witness said.

“The roof fell on us and the place was filled with dead bodies,” said Omar Saleh, 73, from his bed at Kalar hospital, reported the AP.

Earlier Friday, two car bombs tried to penetrate the concrete barriers surrounding the Hamra Hotel in Baghdad, housing several news organizations including NBC News and the Boston Globe.

Mike Boettcher of NBC News told the “Today” show that a white van drove up to the blast wall meant to protect the hotel and exploded at 8:12 a.m. He said that according to the U.S. Army, the bomb was meant to clear the way for a second, larger truck to drive through with explosives.

Since the hole was too small, the truck detonated outside the wall and destroyed several nearby homes.

“To be in the middle of this — not a pleasant experience, but I feel a lot more sorry for those people who were killed just outside our compound, who didn’t have that blast wall to protect them. That saved our lives,” Boettcher said.

Also Friday, insurgents attacked U.S. and Iraqi troops near a mosque in western Iraq, setting off gunbattles that killed 32 insurgents, according to a U.S. military statement.

One Marine and an Iraqi soldier sustained minor injuries, the statement said. Iraqi forces entered the mosque and found spent ammunition.

Meanwhile, Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, on Friday called for an international investigation into the condition of detainees in Iraq after U.S. troops found 170 detainees in an Interior Ministry building, some of whom appeared to have been abused.

“In light of the apparently systemic nature and magnitude of that problem, and the importance of public confidence in any inquiry, I urge authorities to consider calling for an international inquiry,” Arbour said, according to the AP.

The Iraqi government has denied wrongdoing and said the reports of abuse have been exaggerated. “I reject torture and I will punish those who perform torture,” said Interior Minister Bayn Jabr, a Shiite. “No one was beheaded, no one was killed.”

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