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75 killed in Iraq suicide attacks

TWO suicide bombers wearing vests stuffed with explosives blew themselves up in separate attacks in Iraq yesterday, killing 75 people, including many Iranian pilgrims, in the bloodiest day for more than a year.

The blasts occurred as apprehension grows in Iraq ahead of a pullout by US troops from city centres in June, and after warnings from officials that insurgent groups may try to take advantage to launch attacks.

A national election at the end of the year also threatens to stir a resurgence in violence just as the bloodshed of the past six years appeared to be receding.

Shortly after the two attacks, the authorities in Baghdad said they had arrested the purported leader of an al-Qaida-affiliated insurgent group, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. His arrest, which has been reported before, could not be confirmed.

One of the attacks occurred near Muqdadiya, 80km north-east of Baghdad. The suicide bomber appeared to have targeted a group of Iranian pilgrims in a crowded roadside restaurant at lunchtime.

All but two of the 47 dead were Iranians visiting Shi’ite Muslim religious sites in Iraq, police said. 67 people were wounded.

The blast in Baghdad took place as a group of Iraqi national police were distributing relief supplies to families, killing 28 and wounding 50 people.


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