Tuesday 29 July 2008 (25 Rajab 1429)

                  Bloodbath in Iraq
                  Selcan Hacaoglui | AP 

                        NO QUARTER GIVEN: The victim of one of the blasts, a 
child is carried by a relative inside a hospital in Baghdad. (AP)    
                  BAGHDAD : Four women suicide bombers struck a Shiite 
religious gathering in Baghdad and a Kurdish protest rally in northern Iraq 
yesterday, killing at least 57 people and wounding nearly 300 in one of this 
year's deadliest attacks. Three women wearing abayas (all-encompassing black 
robes) blew themselves up in the middle of a religious gathering in Baghdad, 
killing at least 32 people and wounding 102, Iraqi officials said.

                  Women are easily able to hide explosives under abayas and 
often are not searched at checkpoints because of sensitivities. Iraqi security 
forces deployed about 200 women this week to search women during a religious 
procession heading to the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah.

                  Yesterday's attacks took place in the mainly Shiite Karradah 
district, which is several kilometers from Kazimiyah. Most of the dead were 
women and children, police and health officials said.

                  "I heard women and children crying and shouting, and I saw 
burned women and dead bodies lying in pools of blood on the street," Mustapha 
Abdullah, a 32-year-old man who was injured in the stomach and legs, said from 
the hospital where he was being treated. Since the 2003 ouster of Saddam 
Hussein, a Sunni, Shiite political parties have encouraged huge turnouts at 
religious festivals to display the majority sect's power in Iraq. 

                  Sunni religious extremists have often targeted the gatherings 
to foment sectarian war, but that has not stopped the Shiites.

                  In 2005, at least 1,000 people were killed in a bridge 
stampede caused by rumors of a suicide bomber in Baghdad during the Kazimiyah 

                  In the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, 25 people were 
killed and 185 wounded when a blast tore through a crowd of Kurds protesting a 
draft provincial election law, officials said.

                  Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Burhan Tayeb Taha said the Kirkuk 
bomber was also a woman, and that he had seen her remains at the site.

                  Authorities clamped a 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on Kirkuk, 
which is home to Kurds, Turkomen, Arabs and smaller groups. In Baghdad, the 
Iraqi military command imposed a citywide vehicle and motorcycle ban from 5 
a.m. today to 5 a.m. tomorrow.

                  After the explosion in Kirkuk, dozens of angry Kurds opened 
fire on the offices of a Turkomen political party, which opposes Kurdish claims 
on Kirkuk. A police officer said no one was hurt in that attack and that the 
party offices were placed under police protection.



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