Iraq: 26 dead as alleged al-Qaida bomber hits Sunni funeral

In all, 87 people killed or found dead in sectarian violence across country on Thursday.

iraq bloody 88 (photo credit: )
iraq bloody 88
(photo credit: )
A bomb hidden in a parked car struck the funeral procession of a Sunni tribal leader who was gunned down earlier in the day, killing at least 26 mourners as al-Qaida appeared to turn up its campaign of frightening its growing opposition into submission. Thursday's attack in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, targeted the passing procession for Alaa Zuwaid, a 60-year-old restaurant owner who was part of a Sunni tribe that had formed an alliance with other tribal leaders against al-Qaida. Police and medical officials said 45 other people were wounded in the bombing. Zuwaid was killed that morning when militants shot him in front of his house, police said - nearly a month after his 25-year-old son was killed as he walked down the street. In all, 87 people were killed or found dead in sectarian violence across Iraq on Thursday. In Washington, the Democratic-controlled Congress grudgingly approved fresh billions for the Iraq war, minus the troop withdrawal timeline that drew President George W. Bush's earlier veto. Bush warned that August could prove to be a bloody month for US troops and said, "The Iraqi government needs to show real progress in return for America's continued support and sacrifice." The legislation includes nearly $95 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through Sept. 30. Democrats also abandoned their attempts to require the Pentagon to adhere to troop training, readiness and rest requirements unless Bush waived them. The bill establishes a series of goals for the Iraqi government to meet as it strives to build a democratic country able to defend its own borders. Continued US reconstruction aid would be conditioned on progress toward the so-called benchmarks, although Bush retains the authority to order that the funds be spent regardless of how the Baghdad government performs. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, asked Parliament to approve six new Cabinet ministers, all independents, to replace a group loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr that resigned on his orders last month. There was no quorum, and a vote on the nominees was put off until Sunday. Al-Sadr, who went into hiding in Iran at the start of the Baghdad security crackdown, ordered his ministers to quit the government over al-Maliki's refusal to call for a timetable for US withdrawal. Thousands of US and Iraqi troops pressed their search through the fields of southern Iraq in scorching temperatures, and the military said it would not call off the hunt for two missing US soldiers. The body of a third soldier - 20-year-old Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., missing since a May 12 ambush claimed by al-Qaida - was pulled from the Euphrates River and identified Wednesday. Members of Anzack's platoon choked back tears at news of his death and said they would not stop looking for the two others. "We can't leave them behind. I just hope that they have enough faith to keep them going. What they're going through right now, I can't imagine," said Pfc. Sammy Rhodes, 25. The US military also announced Thursday that two US soldiers were killed the day before while conducting combat operations in Iraq's volatile Anbar Province. Those deaths raised the American death toll for the month to at least 82. Last month, 104 US troops were killed in Iraq. In other violence, gunmen attacked a small bus in a predominantly Shiite region on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, killing 11 passengers. Then the gunmen planted a bomb on the bus, which they exploded when police arrived. Four policemen were wounded. A suicide bomber detonated a bomb aboard another small bus driving through Baghdad, killing three civilians and wounding eight, police said. In Sulaiman Bek, 75 miles south of the northern city of Kirkuk, a roadside bomb an Iraqi police convoy killed six police officers Thursday morning, Iraqi police said.