32 killed, 34 wounded, by suicide bomber in Baghdad

Explosion takes place at a funeral in a mixed Shi'ite and Sunni district for a Shi'ite man killed in a previous attack.

Iraq bomb shoe 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Iraq bomb shoe 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A suicide bomber detonated a vest loaded with explosives at a Shi'ite funeral in eastern Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 32 people and wounding 34 others, police and ambulance officials said. The explosion took place in Baghdad's eastern Zayouna neighborhood, a mixed Shi'ite and Sunni district, the officials said on customary condition of anonymity. The funeral was being held for Nabil Hussein Jassim, a retired army officer who had been killed in a car bombing in downtown Baghdad's Tayaran Square on Friday. That blast left at least 14 people dead. In another development, the government sent to the parliament speaker a draft bill on Tuesday for an amnesty for some detainees being held in Iraqi prisons, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said. The bill excludes those held in US custody and those imprisoned for a variety of crimes ranging from terrorism, kidnapping and rape to antiquities smuggling, adultery and homosexuality. It also excludes senior figures of the former Baath regime. If passed in its current form, the bill could see some 5,000 prisoners released, al-Dabbagh said. The Iraqi government has about 20,000 people in custody, while the US military holds about 25,000. Sunni parliamentarians have criticized the draft for its limited scope. They have argued that most prisoners are charged with terrorist crimes, rendering the bill ineffective. Some also fear referring the bill to Iraq's gridlocked parliament will actually delay prisoner releases. In a village north of Baghdad, the bodies of a Sunni policeman and four of his family members were found just hours after they were abducted from their home by unknown gunmen, authorities said. The assault occurred in Diyala province, where al-Qaida in Iraq retains a presence and violence has stubbornly remained, despite drops elsewhere. Extremists have long targeted Iraqi policeman and al-Qaida in Iraq has repeatedly said it will aggressively target any Iraqis who join the security forces. Tuesday's attack happened on the northern outskirts of Jalula, a city mixed between Shi'ites and Sunnis 125 kilometers northeast of Baghdad. An unknown number of gunmen attacked the policeman's home at dawn. Authorities found his body and that of his father, two brothers and a cousin about two hours later, a local policeman said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media. Hours later in the same province, a Shi'ite man and his 16-year-old son where killed in a drive-by shooting, police said. The two were standing outside their home in Tahwelah, about 30 kilometers east of Baqouba. Late Monday, Iraq's government released statistics on the number of civilians and security force members it said were killed in 2007. According to the health, defense and interior ministries, 16,232 civilians, 432 soldiers and about 1,300 Iraqi policemen died in 2007. The year before, the ministries said that 12,371 civilians, 603 soldiers and 1,224 policemen were killed by violence. The Iraq government's figures were roughly in line with a count kept by The Associated Press. For 2007, the count found that 18,610 Iraqis were killed. In 2006, the only other full year an AP count has been tallied, 13,813 died. The AP count - which includes civilians, government officials, and police and security forces - is compiled from hospital, police and military officials, as well as accounts from reporters and photographers. Insurgent deaths were not included. Other counts differ and some have given higher civilian death tolls. In addition to policeman and Iraqi soldiers, the more than 70,000 Sunni fighters who have joined an anti-al-Qaida in Iraq movement are being targeted by extremists. On Monday, a suicide bomber attacked a checkpoint manned by such fighters, killing 12 people in one of a series of strikes against the movement singled out by Osama bin Laden as a "disgrace and shame." Leaders of the rapidly expanding US-backed movement, credited with helping slash violence across the country by 60 percent since June, condemned bin Laden's latest message to his followers. "We consider our fighting against al-Qaida to be a popular revolution against the devil," said Sheik Mohammed Saleh al-Dohan, head of one of the groups in southern Ramadi, a city in Anbar province where the movement was born. Al-Dohan blamed al-Qaida, which espouses a radical version of Sunni Islam, for bringing destruction to Iraq: "They made enemies between Sunnis, Shi'ites and Christians who lived in peace for centuries." Bin Laden and his fighters "are the traitors who betrayed the Muslim nation and brought shame to Islam in the entire world," he said. In an audiotape that emerged on Saturday, bin Laden warned Iraq's Sunni Arabs against joining the groups, known as "awakening councils," or participating in any unity government. He said Sunni Arabs who join the groups "have betrayed the nation and brought disgrace and shame to their people. They will suffer in life and in the afterlife."