Biggest blast in months leaves at least 50 dead in Iraq

Baghdad_(dpa) _ A car bomb blast in northern Baghdad, the largest in months, left more than 50 people dead and 80 wounded on Tuesday, a police source said.

The blast came at the end of a long day of violence across Iraq that claimed at least another 15 lives, including a television presenter, a family of four, four council members, two police officers, four suspected al-Qaeda members and three apparent suicide bombers.

The bomb ripped through the garage and a bus stop and struck an outdoor market and apartments in Hurriya, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood, according to the CNN website.

Sources added that the explosion, the biggest of its kind in the Iraqi capital for months, had left women and children among the dead and wounded.

"The car that was parked in a garage in al-Hurriya district, north Baghdad, has exploded leaving at least 130 casualties. All of them are civilians," sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The blast came as officials tried to tamp down violence in Shiite areas, where US and Iraqi forces have battled militias.

"Security forces sealed off the area and prevented vehicles and pedestrians from entering, while ambulances rushed the wounded to nearby hospitals for treatment," the source added.

In the other killings, the US military said it killed four suspected members of the al-Qaeda in Iraq group and detained 10 in operations against the network in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Police officials in the city said four people from the same family were also killed by US troops.

In other actions, police forces arrested eight wanted people, and seized quantities of drugs and different ammunition in raid operations in Basra, 590 km south of Baghdad, a source from the province's police told the Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency.

Fifteen people suspected to have been planning for demonstrations were arrested in Karbala province, 110 kilometers south west of Baghdad, a security source told VOI.

The source did not reveal which group the suspects belonged to, but he said they carried documents that proved they were planning armed demonstrations in the province.

The US military said it had killed the four suspected members of al-Qaeda hiding in a building in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday, after the suspects refused to surrender.

Four other suspects on the scene were detained, one of them for "his alleged role in manufacturing and distributing bombing components," according to the statement.

In another operation in Mosul, US troops captured a suspected member of al-Qaeda, who "is believed to oversee attacks and facilitate the movement of foreign terrorists into the city."

A police official said US troops killed four people from the same family, a father and his three sons, and arrested four in a dawn raid on their home in al-Mahata area, in south Mosul.

At the funeral ceremony, some 300 mourners carrying photographs of the slain family staged a protest, according to an unnamed police official.

The protestors, who passed by the headquarters of the municipality, denounced the US presence in Iraq, the official said.

Also in Mosul, gunmen killed a television presenter Mohialdin al-Naqib as he was leaving his home north of the city to go to work, police officials said.

Al-Naqib, 50, worked with Nineveh's television and radio station, which is part of the state-owned Iraqi Media network.

In an attack on members of tribal police known as Awakening Councils, a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle targeted a checkpoint manned by council members in Saba Abkar, north of Baghdad, killing four council members and leaving two civilians injured, police said.

Awakening Councils are set up in Sunni-dominated areas by clans with US backing to fight al-Qaeda insurgents.

In Baquba, 60 kilometres north-east of Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb near a police checkpoint in Tahrir, leaving two policemen dead and 15 people wounded, including eight policemen.

Violence in Baquba, the capital of the restive Diyala province, has been unabated despite an ongoing offensive jointly mounted by US and Iraqi troops.

Diyala is a mixed Sunni and Shiite province, with farmlands and palm groves, which provide natural safe havens for insurgents. dpa str sf ns pr


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