Friday, November 24, 2006

Bombing onslaught on Shiite enclave in Baghdad kills 161

Baghdad, Nov 24 - Funeral processions began today forthe more than 160 people who were killed by car bombs andmortars in Baghdad's largest Shiite district. Hundreds of men,women and children beat their chests, chanted and cried asthey walked beside vehicles carrying the caskets of theirloved ones.The rest of Baghdad remained under a 24-hour curfew aimedat stopping widespread sectarian violence in the capital. ButIraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, himself a Shiite,ordered police to guard the processions carrying victims ofyesterday's attacks by Sunni Muslim insurgents in Sadr City toNajaf, the holy Shiite city where they will be buried."God is great. There is no God but Allah. Mohammed is themessenger of Allah," about 300 mourners chanted, as they beattheir chests while walking through the Sadr City slumalongside slow moving cars and minivans carrying 16 woodencaskets tied to the rooftops. Some of the men and womenrepeatedly touched the sides of the vehicles or the caskets inan effort to say a final farewell to their relatives orfriends.Once the processions reached the edge of Sadr City innortheastern Baghdad, the cars and minivans left most of themourners behind for the 160-kilometre drive south to Najaf, atreacherous journey that passes through many checkpoints andareas controlled by Sunni militants in Iraq's so-called"Triangle of Death."In yesterday's well-coordinated attack, Sunni insurgentsblew up five car bombs and fired mortars in Sadr City, killingat least 161 people and wounding 257 in a dramatic attack thatsent the US ambassador racing to meet with Iraqi leaders in aneffort to contain the growing sectarian war.

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