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tonihawr at msn.com
Thu Sep 30 11:06:19 EDT 2004
.. the longer we stay, the worse off they are ... ?
Baghdad bombings kill 35 children
New hostages seized
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 29 - Bombs exploded near a U.S. convoy in western Baghdad on Thursday, killing 35 children and seven adults, a hospital official said. Hours earlier, a suicide car bomb killed a U.S. soldier and two Iraqis on the capital's outskirts.
The bombs in <>Baghdad's al-Amel neighborhood caused the largest death toll of children in any insurgent attack since the conflict began 17 months ago.
It was unclear if the bombs - which also wounded 141 people, including 10 U.S. soldiers - targeted the convoy or a ceremony marking the opening of a new sewage system that was taking place at the same time.
The day of violence, including insurgent attacks and U.S. airstrikes in Fallujah, left a total of 46 people dead and 208 wounded.
A U.S. helicopter evacuated some of the wounded while other aircraft circled overhead. U.S. forces sealed off the area.
In the northern city of Tal Afar, meanwhile, a car bomb targeting the police chief killed at least four people and wounded 16, Iraqi and U.S. officials said. A police officer speaking on condition of anonymity said the police chief, whose name was only given as Col. Ismail, escaped the assassination attempt.
There were conflicting accounts about what caused the blast. Military spokeswoman Capt. Angela Bowman said it was a car bomb, but police in nearby Mosul said it was a device planted in the road.
Also Thursday, the Arab news network Al-Jazeera showed video of 10 new hostages seized in Iraq by militants. Al-Jazeera said the 10 - six Iraqis, two Lebanese and two Indonesian women - were taken by The Islamic Army in Iraq. The group has claimed responsibility for seizing two French journalists last month.
A Lebanese official later said kidnappers had released one Lebanese captive, although it was not clear if he was among the 10.
In the al-Amel attacks, Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said two car bombs and a roadside bomb exploded in swift succession as the convoy was passing about 1 p.m.
Yarmouk Hospital received 42 bodies - including those of 35 children - and 131 wounded, said Iyhsan Nasser, head of the facility's statistics department.
Lt. Col. Jim Hutton, spokesman for the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division, said 10 American soldiers were among the wounded.
Resident Samir Abul-Karim said the attack happened during a ceremony marking the opening of a new sewage system in the neighborhood. Body parts were strewn in the streets amid pools of blood.
''This attack was carried out by evil people who do not want the Iraqis to celebrate and don't want (reconstruction) projects in Iraq,'' said Iraqi National guard Lt. Ahmad Saad.
Hours earlier, a suicide car bomber struck in the Abu Ghraib area outside of Baghdad, killing the American and at least two Iraqis, and wounding 60, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.
That bomb targeted a compound housing the mayor's office, a police station and other buildings, police 1st Lt. Ahmed Jawad said. A U.S. Bradley fighting vehicle parked in front of the compound was hit, he said.
''I saw people flying in the air and falling on the ground,'' said Saad Mohsin, who was in front of the mayor's office and was struck by shrapnel.
Elsewhere on the outskirts of Baghdad, insurgents fired a rocket Thursday at a logistical support area for coalition forces, killing one soldier and wounding seven, the military said in a statement. No further information was disclosed - including whether or not it was a U.S. soldier.
Meanwhile, the United States targeted a suspected terrorist safehouse in Fallujah. The military said intelligence reports indicated the house was being used by followers of Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to plan attacks against U.S.-led forces and Iraqi citizens.
At least four Iraqis were killed - including two women and one child - and eight were wounded, said Dr. Ahmed Khalil of the Fallujah General Hospital. Witnesses said two houses were flattened and four others damaged in the strike.
''Significant secondary explosions were observed during the impact, indicating a large cache of illegal ordinance was stored in the safehouse,'' the military statement said. Explosions continued for hours.
American jets, tanks and artillery units repeatedly have targeted al-Zarqawi's network in Fallujah in recent weeks as U.S.-led forces seek to assert control over insurgent enclaves ahead of elections slated for January. The military says the attacks have inflicted significant damage on the network, which has claimed responsibility for a series of bombings, kidnappings and other attacks.
Doctors say scores of civilians have been killed and wounded in the strikes.
Zarqawi's group, Tawhid and Jihad, has claimed responsibility for several beheadings and kidnappings. On Wednesday, video surfaced of British hostage Kenneth Bigley, believed held by Zarqawi's group, pleading for help behind the bars of a makeshift cage and begging Prime Minister Tony Blair: ''Have some compassion. Only you can save me now.''
The sobbing, 62-year-old Bigley urged Blair to meet the demands of his captors, which are the release of all female prisoners in Iraq. He accused Blair of lying about efforts to secure his release.
''My life is cheap. He doesn't care about me. I am just one person,'' the civil engineer said. ''I want to go home. Please, Mr. Blair, don't leave me here.''
Later Thursday, Blair ruled out negotiating with Bigley's kidnappers but said his government would do what it could to aid his release.
''I am not sitting here saying, 'If they get in contact with us then we are just going to refuse to do anything,''' Blair told the British Broadcasting Corp.
''We will do whatever we can. In fact, there is a lot that we are trying to do, which I won't go into. But we are trying to do whatever we possibly can.''
The tape was the second in a week to surface showing Bigley appealing for help. Tawhid and Jihad beheaded two American hostages seized with him Sept. 16 and warned he will be the next to die unless its demands are met.
More than 140 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq and at least 26 have been killed. Some, like Bigley, were seized by insurgents as leverage in their campaign against the United States and its allies. But others were taken by criminals seeking ransom.
The Al-Jazeera video of the latest hostages showed three captives, who were not identified, and two masked gunmen pointing weapons at them. There was no mention of demands by the militants or when or where they were captured. The network said the 10 were employees of the Jib electricity company.
Gen. Hussein Ali Kamal, Iraq's deputy interior minister in charge of intelligence, later confirmed that two Lebanese had been kidnapped along with a group of others that included women. He had no other details.
The Frenchmen, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, disappeared Aug. 20 during a trip to the southern Iraqi city of Najaf. The Islamic Army in Iraq demanded that France revoke a new law banning Islamic head scarves from state schools.
© 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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