Bomber wreaks carnage at Kurdish funeral

A SUICIDE car bomb exploded at the funeral of a Kurdish official in northern Iraq yesterday, killing 20 Iraqis and wounding more than 30 and bringing the death toll in three days of insurgent attacks to at least 100.

The attack occurred in the city of Tal Afar, 90 miles east of the Syrian border, said Khisru Goran,

The attacks, which follow the approval of Iraq’s first democratically elected government last week, are aimed at deflating hopes in Washington and Baghdad that the installation of the new government, scheduled for tomorrow, would curb the insurgency.

Meanwhile, militants have kidnapped an Australian man who pleaded for US-led coalition forces to leave Iraq in order to save his life, according to a videotape released yesterday.

The tape showed a man who identified himself as Douglas Wood seated between two masked militants pointing automatic weapons at him. A sign shown on the tape carried the name of the militant group responsible for the kidnapping, Shura Council of the Mujahedeen of Iraq.

Mr Wood, 63, appearing dishevelled and shaken, said he was a US resident living in Alamo, California, with his American wife. He said he came to Iraq almost a year ago to work on reconstruction projects with the US military.

He appealed to US President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian leader John Howard to pull their soldiers out of Iraq and leave the country to Iraqis, saying he did not want to die.

More than 200 foreigners have been abducted in Iraq since April 2004 and some 30 have been killed by their kidnappers.

As US and Iraqi forces on Sunday detained several suspects in the abduction of aid worker Margaret Hassan, insurgents launched new attacks, killing at least 10 Iraqis.

Four car bombings took place in Baghdad yesterday, US military spokesman Sgt. Greg Kaufman said. He said no US soldiers were killed in the attacks.

One suicide attack took place near a water pump station in southeastern Baghdad, said US Army Lt Col Clifford Kent. No casualties were immediately reported.

Another car bomb exploded in the Zafaraniyah neighborhood of Baghdad, killing four Iraqi civilians and wounding 12, police said.

A third car bomb targeting an American patrol in western Baghdad killed a child and injured 10 other Iraqis, police said.

In eastern Baghdad, a man failed to fully detonate the explosives in his car outside an American base, the military said. US soldiers pulled the driver out of his burning car and the man later said he was forced to carry out the attack to protect kidnapped family members, according to the statement.

Insurgents also staged a well co-ordinated attack on a small road near Diala Bridge in eastern Baghdad, said police Lt Col Sabah Hamid al-Firtosi.

At 6:15am, a pickup truck stopped near a checkpoint and insurgents jumped out, firing machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, al-Firtosi said.

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