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Ramadan ends on bloody note in Baghdad

Latest update : 2008-10-02

Suicide bombers struck two Shia mosques in Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 20 people, as worshippers marked the end of the Ramadan fasting month. Another six people were shot dead in an ambush north of Baghdad.

Twin suicide bombings near Shiite mosques in Iraq's capital killed 20 people on Thursday as worshippers celebrated Eid al-Fitr, which ends the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, officials said.
   
Another six people were shot dead in an ambush north of Baghdad.
   
Security officials said a suicide bomber blew himself up as he was being frisked outside the Al-Rassol mosque in Jadida, a Shiite district of southern Baghdad, killing 12 people and wounding 30.
   
In the second attack, a bomber slammed his explosives-filled car into an Iraqi armoured vehicle at a checkpoint near a mosque in the nearby district of Zafaraniyah.
   
The blast killed eight people, including four Iraqi soldiers, and wounded 10 worshippers.
   
A US military patrol came under a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad's Mansur neighbourhood at midday, the American military said. There were no immediate details.
   
Iraqi policeman Ali Abdul Hussein, 33, said the bombing at the Rasool mosque would have been more serious had the bomber made it inside the building.
   
"I saw a man rushing to the checkpoint just outside the mosque," he told AFP. "I noticed his belt and shouted to my colleagues to stop the man. I also ran towards him but two colleagues ahead of me stopped the man."
   
Just then, the bomber detonated the explosives, killing the two policemen and sending Abdul Hussein flying. Wounded in the leg, he returned to the mosque after taking victims to hospital.
   
"If my two friends had not stopped the bomber outside, there would have been many more killed at the mosque," he sobbed.
   
Mosque security chief Mohammed Borhan, 29, pointed to the sidewalk where the suicide bomber's head landed, face to the sky. It was a few yards (meters) away from where the man detonated his explosives.
   
Borhan filmed the remains of the bomber. The man's face was almost perfectly intact, with eyes wide open and a hint of bewilderment.
   
Slippers and shoes of those killed and wounded in the attack were scattered on the roadside.
   
Six people were also killed when gunmen opened fire at a minibus near Baquba, the capital of Diyala province, a security official said.
   
Meanwhile, the US military reported that four people had been killed and 15 wounded on Wednesday in a car bomb attack at a mosque in Balad, north of Baghdad, as devotees gathered for prayers.
   
The bomb exploded in the car park of Sayid Mohammed mosque in Balad, in the Sunni province of Salaheddin, the military said, adding that the mosque was not damaged.
   
The latest wave of attacks came as Iraq's Shiite majority celebrated Eid, a day after Sunni Muslims began to mark the end of the dawn-to-dusk fasting month of Ramadan.
   
Iraq has seen a downward trend in violence since the middle of last year, although bloodshed spiked in March and April during clashes between Shiite militiamen and US-led security forces.
   
In September, a total of 440 Iraqis were killed in militia and insurgent violence: 359 civilians, 26 Iraqi soldiers and 55 policemen, according to figures from various ministries.
   
The death toll was little changed from 431 in August.
   
US and Iraqi officials claim that violence in the country is at a four-year low, but recent weeks have seen a slight spike in deadly attacks.
   
The first 21 days of Ramadan were the quietest fasting period in the Iraqi capital in three years, Major General Jeffery Hammond, the US commander for Baghdad, said last week.
   
The period saw just 60 attacks compared with 600 in 2007 and 800 in 2006 -- the year when sectarian violence erupted across Iraq.
   
However, Hammond said Baghdad was now witnessing "4.2 attacks per day, 89 percent less than in 2006 and 83 less than in 2007."
   
"There has been a slight increase of violence in September," he said, adding that this was always the trend during Ramadan. But the rise had not changed the overall declining trend.

Date created : 2008-10-02

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