Twin car bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims kill 22 in Iraqi city of KarbalaBy Rebecca Santana, AP
Monday, July 26, 2010
Twin car bombs kill 22 in Iraqi city of Karbala
BAGHDAD — Iraqi officials say two car bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims south of the holy city of Karbala have killed 22 people.
The pilgrims were on their way to Karbala to take part in an important Shiite holiday that attracts Shiites from around the country.
Karbala police and medical officials also said 68 people were injured in the attacks.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
A suicide bomber driving a minibus blew himself up in front of the Baghdad office of a popular Arabic news station Monday, killing six people and burying a lawmaker alive under the rubble of his collapsed home, police and hospital officials said.
The attack at the offices of pan-Arab news channel Al-Arabiya was a reminder of the persistent dangers both Iraqi and foreign journalists face in the country.
Al-Arabiya is among the most popular Arabic news stations. But militants view it as pro-Western, and its journalists have been singled out for violence in the past.
The bomber made it through two checkpoints, casting further doubts on the abilities of Iraqi security forces as U.S. combat troops prepare to pull out by the end of August.
The bomber was apparently waved through the two checkpoints leading to the station’s office along a narrow street after security guards checked his identification, said military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi. The explosion occurred about 10 minutes after the bomber cleared the second checkpoint.
“This has the clear fingerprints of al-Qaida,” al-Moussawi told Al-Arabiya. No one claimed responsibility for the blast, but al-Moussawi said documents had been found indicating al-Qaida was planning to target Arabic news channels and other media offices in the country.
Members of Al-Arabiya’s security department were arrested, al-Moussawi added without elaborating.
A neighbor who lived next door questioned how the bomber could have gotten so close.
“What can we say? There are checkpoints. What are they doing?” said the man, whose shirt was speckled with blood. He declined to give his name fearing retaliation, but said many members of his family were injured in the attack.
The roofs of both cars in his driveway caved in and a large pink stuffed rabbit was laying on the ground along with pieces of glass and twisted metal.
The massive blast blew out windows in the two-story Al-Arabiya building and left much of the interior in shambles, with doors hanging off their frames. The street outside was littered with the smoldering hulks of at least nine cars, including one that appeared to have been hurled by the explosion on top of another vehicle.
Three guards, a driver, a passer-by and a 50-year-old cleaner died in the blast in front of the building, police and hospital officials said. The attack also wounded 16 people, including former deputy prime minister Salam al-Zubaie, who lives nearby. The television company said four people were killed, including the guards and the cleaner.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
“Al-Arabiya condemns this brutal attack on its office and employees and all aggressions and operations targeting journalist whether in Iraq or any other place in the world,” the Saudi-owned company said in a statement released by their Dubai headquarters.
Al-Zubaie, a member of parliament representing the Iraqiya list headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, was rescued from under the rubble of his home and underwent surgery, said Izzuldin al-Samarraie, an official in the lawmaker’s office.
Iraqiya is locked in a tough battle with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to see who will be the country’s next leader. Allawi himself came to the scene to inspect the damage.
Al-Zubaie had already survived one attack. He was wounded in the abdomen in 2007 after a suicide bomber concealed among worshippers blew himself up in his home.
“These evil people are targeting the voice of Al-Arabiya as well as political figures. They target all Iraq,” said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, speaking on the channel.
Iraq has been without new leadership since the March 7 elections failed to produce a clear winner. As politicians bicker, many Iraqis worry that the insurgents are trying to incite more violence in the midst of the power vacuum.
In other attacks targeting Al-Arabiya, the station’s Baghdad bureau manager escaped assassination two years ago when a bomb was found under the seat of his car.
Correspondent Atwar Bahjat was snatched from a crowd along with her cameraman and technician while reporting on the 2006 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra. Their bodies were found the next day.
Attacks on journalists were common during the height of Iraq’s insurgency in 2006 and 2007, but have tapered off amid improving security over the past couple of years.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 142 journalists and media workers have been killed since March 2003.
Associated Press Writers Mazin Yahya, Bushra Juhi and Hamid Ahmed contributed.
Tags: Baghdad, Bombings, Improvised Explosives, Iraq, Middle East, Ml-iraq, Terrorism, Tv News