Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Canada and Russia exchange snarky tweets

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola in Nigeria: First death outside of Lagos

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Niger: Top opposition figure to be questioned in baby-trafficking scandal

Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns of further sanctions against Russia

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

Middle east

Truck bombing deadliest attack in over a year

Video by Yuka ROYER

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-22

The death toll from Iraq's deadliest bombing in more than a year rose to 72, police said on Sunday, a day after a suicide bomber detonated a truck packed with explosives outside a mosque in the north of the country.

AFP - Residents of the town hit by Iraq's bloodiest attack in 16 months searched for their loved ones on Sunday after a massive truck bombing killed 72 people and destroyed dozens of houses.

Saturday's attack in the predominantly Shiite Turkmen town of Taza Kharmatu, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of the northern oil hub of Kirkuk, was the latest bloody bombing in the runup to the planned pullout of US troops from Iraqi towns and cities.

As rescue efforts continued, Iraqi officials announced that insurgents had killed nine police over the past two days in the two most populous cities of Baghdad and Mosul.

"The toll from the explosion yesterday in Taza is 72 dead," said Sarhad Qadir, the top policeman for Kirkuk's outskirts, who added that more than 200 people had been wounded.

A doctor at the Kirkuk mortuary, Ibrahim Mohammed Jassim, confirmed the death toll and added: "It is likely that the toll will increase because search operations have not yet concluded."

The suicide attack, which occurred around 400 metres (yards) from the Shiite Al-Rasul mosque and left a deep crater in the ground, has been blamed on Al-Qaeda.

"Taza was struck by an attack that destroyed our families, our lives, our homes," said 58-year-old local resident Majid Shaker. "This is the true face of terrorism -- attacking innocents in their homes."

Iraqi emergency services and US soldiers helped residents sift through the rubble in their quest to find survivors of about 80 houses levelled by the blast.

The International Committee of the Red Cross sent a tonne of medical equipment to Kirkuk hospital, the agency's Iraq spokeswoman Dibeh Fakhr said, while the US military said it had contributed generator lights and water to the rescue effort.

"Most of the victims were children, the elderly or women, who all represent easy targets for terrorists," provincial governor Abdel Rahman Mustafa told AFP. "They want to plant the seeds of sectarian division among the Iraqi people."

The Turkmen Front, Iraq's main Turkmen political party, announced three days of mourning and called for an "immediate investigation... and for the criminals to be brought to justice."

Saturday's attack was the bloodiest since two mentally impaired women were used by Al-Qaeda as unwitting bombers in Baghdad pet markets on February 1, 2008, in twin attacks that killed 98 people.

The Taza bombing comes ahead of a June 30 deadline for US troops to pull back from Iraq's built-up areas ahead of a complete pullout from the country by the end of 2011.

"This ugly crime is an attempt to harm security and stability and spread mistrust of the Iraqi forces," Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Saturday.

UN Special Representative Staffan de Mistura described it as a "horrifying and wicked crime against innocent civilians" that was "aimed at provoking a new cycle of mass violence and revenge".

The Iraqi premier warned earlier this month that insurgent groups and militia would likely step up their attacks in the coming weeks in a bid to undermine confidence in the Iraqi security forces.

Violence has dropped markedly in Iraq in recent months, with May seeing the lowest Iraqi death toll since the 2003 invasion. But attacks remain common, particularly in Baghdad and Mosul.

The oil province of Kirkuk has been plagued by tensions between its Kurdish, Turkmen and Arab communities.

Those tensions prevented the holding of provincial elections on January 31, when all of Iraq except for the three autonomous Kurdish provinces voted for new councils.
 

Date created : 2009-06-21

COMMENT(S)