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August 8, 2009

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38 Shi'ites die as Iraq mosque hit by bomber

A SUICIDE car bomber killed 38 people as they left a Shi'ite Muslim mosque just outside the volatile northern Iraqi city of Mosul, officials said yesterday, while a series of bombs in Baghdad killed six Shi'ite pilgrims.

Police said 95 people were wounded in the suicide bombing, one of several attacks in recent weeks targeting Shi'ite religious gatherings. A week ago a series of blasts outside Shi'ite mosques in Baghdad killed 31 people.

Sunni Islamist militants such as al-Qaida, who consider Shi'ites heretics, are often blamed for such attacks.

"I was in the house when this explosion happened. I hurried to the mosque to search for my father in the ruins ... I found him seriously wounded, and took him to hospital, but he died," said Khalil Qasim, 19, crying.

Mosul authorities urged citizens to donate blood and appealed for construction vehicles to lift debris trapping victims of the attack, which took place in Shreikhan, a majority Shi'ite Turkmen village just north of Mosul City.

The insurgency in Iraq has waned in the last 18 months, but rebels have been able to hide out in the mountainous areas around Mosul, 390 kilometers north of Baghdad.

The dispute in the province of Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital, threatens to split the province and inflame tensions that could threaten Iraq's long-term stability.

In Baghdad, roadside bombs exploded as minibuses carrying Shi'ite Muslims home from pilgrimage a day earlier passed by.

Roadside bombs struck two minibuses in separate incidents in the Baghdad Shi'ite district of Sadr City and another roadside bomb struck a minibus in east Baghdad, a hospital source said, killing six and wounding 24.

Thousands of pilgrims poured into Iraq's holy city of Kerbala on Thursday to mark the birth of Imam Mohammed al-Mehdi, a Messiah-like figure Shi'ites believe vanished centuries ago and will return to bring peace on earth.


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