Bomb strikes funeral as blasts kill 40 in Baghdad

Baghdad, Jan 27 (AP) A car bomb today ripped through afuneral tent in a mainly Shiite area of Baghdad, the deadliestin a series of attacks that killed at least 40 people.

The blasts were the latest in more than a week ofbombings that have killed more than 200 people, raisingconcerns about an uptick in violence as the US militaryprepares to withdraw from the country.

The violence has mainly targeted the majority Shiitecommunity and Iraqi security forces, posing a major challengeto Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his fragile coalitiongovernment that was seated last month.

The car that exploded about 2 pm today had been parkedwith the vehicles of other mourners, several meters away fromthe tent, so it wouldn''t raise suspicion, police said. Severalother cars were set afire and the force of the blast damagednearby houses.

At least 37 people, including four children and threewomen, were killed and 78 wounded, according to police andhospital officials, who spoke on condition of anonymitybecause they weren''t authorized to release the information.

Ali Kamil, a 22-year-old college student who livesnearby, said he rushed to the scene and saw the blaze stillraging. He said young men were throwing stones at the Iraqisecurity forces, accusing them of failing to provideprotection.

"I discovered that a friend of mine from college waskilled in the blast along with another friend of mine, and Isaw four other friends from the neighborhood injured," hesaid.

Three other Iraqis were killed in sporadic bombingstargeting Iraqi troops and an electricity official earlierThursday. The first roadside bomb occurred about 8:30 am neara police patrol at a commercial complex in Baghdad''s Karradahneighborhood, killing one civilian and wounding five otherpeople, including three policemen, officials said.

A bomb targeting Iraqi soldiers patrolling the Babal-Muadham area of Baghdad exploded about an hour and a halflater, killing one bystander and wounding three others,according to police and hospital officials.

The director general of Baghdad''s central electricitydirectorate, Ismaeel al-Obeidi, also escaped an assassinationattempt when a roadside bomb struck the two vehicle convoycarrying him to work, officials said.

One of his guards was killed and two others werewounded in the blast, which occurred just about 100 metersaway from his office. The officials all spoke on condition ofanonymity because they weren''t authorised to release theinformation.

Violence has declined sharply in Iraq over the pastfew years, but near-daily attacks continue. More than 170people were killed in bombings targeting Shiite pilgrims andIraqi security forces last week, shattering a two-month lull.


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