Wednesday, July 13, 2005
A suicide bomber has killed as many as 24 children in Iraq.
According to an Iraqi eyewitness, US troops were handing out sweets to children gathered around their Humvee military vechicle in eastern Baghdad when a bomber drove a car carrying explosives up to the group and detonated his weapon. One US soldier was killed and three more injured.
The local hospital's morgue has received 24 dead children, mostly aged between 10 and 13.
Army spokesman Major Russ Goemaere said "The car bomber made a deliberate decision to attack one of our vehicles as the soldiers were engaged in a peaceful operation with Iraqi citizens."
A Reuters camera man saw the car explode between houses, reducing three to rubble. The area is very poor and the residents are a mixed community of Sunnis, Shia and Christians.
Women were wailing in the street alongside a crumpled child's bicycle and pools of blood after the attack.
Hundreds of distraught parents gathered at the local hospital desperately searching for their children.
One father who lost a son said "Why do they attack our children? They just destroyed one US Humvee, but they killed dozens of our children."
A joint US-Iraq offensive launched in Baghdad in May has considerably reduced the number of suicide bombings, but authorities admit such attacks are hard to eliminate.
A similar car bomb attack in September last year killed at least 34 children in Baghdad. That attack also saw the victims gathering round US troops who were handing out sweets, to mark the opening of a water treatment plant.
Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Tuesday that declining levels of violence in his country were allowing Iraqi security forces to begin taking over duties from US troops in many cities, in a move that may pave the way for withdrawal of Western forces.
== Sources ==
"Twenty-four Iraqi children killed by car bomb" — AFP, July 13, 2005 "Suicide Car Bomber Kills Up to 27 in Iraq" — AP, July 13, 2005 "Children among 25 killed in Baghdad bomb" — Reuters, July 13, 2005 "Children die in Baghdad car bomb" — BBC News, July 13, 2005