At Least 79 Killed In Mosque Attack

Iraqi soldiers secure the scene of a suicide attack on the Buratha mosque Friday April 7, 2006 in Baghdad, Iraq. At least two suicide attackers wearing women's cloaks blew themselves up Friday in a Shiite mosque in northern Baghdad, killing at least 52 people and wounding more than 160, police said. AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed

Suicide attackers wearing women's cloaks blew themselves up Friday in a Shiite mosque in northern Baghdad, killing at least 79 people and wounding more than 160, police said.

It was the second major attack against Shiite targets in as many days, CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports.

The horrific attack at the Buratha mosque, affiliated with the country's main Shiite political party, is likely to further stoke tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. The U.S. ambassador warned that sectarian civil war in Iraq could enflame the entire Middle East.

Police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said the blasts occurred at the Buratha mosque, which is affiliated with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the main Shiite party.

Jalal Eddin al-Sagheer, the preacher at the mosque and one of the country's leading politicians, said there were three assailants. One came through the women's security checkpoint and blew up first, he said. One raced into the mosque's courtyard and other to his office before detonating themselves, said al-Sagheer, who was not injured.

He accused Sunni politicians and clerics of waging "a campaign of distortions and lies against the Buratha mosque, claiming that it includes Sunni prisoners and mass graves of Sunnis."

"Shiites are the ones who are targeted as part of this dirty sectarian war waged against them as the world watches silently," he told Al-Arabiya television.

The attack occurred as worshippers were leaving at the end of Friday prayers, the main weekly religious service. Earlier Friday, the Interior Ministry cautioned people in Baghdad to avoid crowds near mosques and markets due to a car bomb threat.

Rescuers carried the bodies from the mosque compound on makeshift wooden wheelbarrows and loaded them on the backs of pickup trucks. The Baghdad city council urged Iraqis to donate blood for those wounded.

In other developments:

  • Three more American troops have been killed in Iraq. The military says one service member died today after suffering wounds in western Baghdad, where a patrol came under small arms fire. A second death happened yesterday. A soldier was killed when his combat patrol struck a roadside bomb some 155 miles north of Baghdad. And the military says a Marine died yesterday in "enemy action" in Anbar province west of Baghdad.

  • The Iraqi Ambassador to Russia said Friday he possessed no information on whether Russia had fed U.S. battle plans to Saddam Hussein before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but added that such information would have been of no relevance for Saddam's government. A Pentagon report released last month said Russia had obtained battlefield intelligence on U.S. troop movements and passed it to Saddam.

  • The former judge who sentenced 148 Shiites to death in the 1980s denied rushing to judgment on Thursday, saying the suspects confessed in a 16-day trial and insisting there were no teenagers among them, as prosecutors questioned him on a crucial point in the case against Saddam Hussein. But Awad al-Bandar acknowledged the 148 had only one defense lawyer, appointed by his Revolutionary Court in the 1984 trial.

  • Germany's parliament voted Friday to establish a committee to investigate whether German intelligence agents assisted U.S. combat operations during the Iraq war. Parliament President Norbert Lammert said the vote passed with a broad majority and only a few lawmakers were against it. He did not provide the exact breakdown.

  • A car bomb exploded Thursday in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, killing at least 10 people and injuring about 30 nearly 300 yards from the Imam Ali Shrine, a police chief said. The shrine is among the world's most sacred sites for Shiite Muslims and contains the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad's son-in-law, Imam Ali.

    The Interior Ministry had cautioned Baghdad residents to avoid crowds near mosques and markets due to a car bomb threat.

    No group claimed responsibility for either attack, although suspicion fell on Sunni Muslim extremists responsible for numerous bombings against Shiite civilians. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Republic in Iraq, the main Shiite party, said the attacks were part of "a war of annihilation" against Shiites.

    Mainstream Sunni Arab politicians condemned the attack, calling on all religious and political leaders to rally together in the interest of national unity.

    "Bloodshed is forbidden," Sunni lawmaker Adnan al-Dulaimi told Iraqi television. "I call on all religious figures and politicians to work together to avoid provocative acts of sedition."

    The attacks were likely to increase tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, already at a high level following the Feb. 22 blast at a Shiite shrine in Samarra and reprisal killings. That bombing triggered a war of reprisal attacks against Sunni mosques and clerics.

    "This explosion is trying to provoke Iraqis to sectarian sedition through bombing the mosques," said Salah Abdul-Razzaq, a Baghdad city council member.
    • Joel Roberts

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