Iraq Blast Targets Mystic Islam

A man looks at wreckage after a car bomb detonated in Baghdad Friday June 3, 2005. At least 825 people, including U.S. forces, have been killed since the new Shiite-led government was announced April 28. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
At least nine Iraqis were killed in an overnight suicide bombing in a remote village north of Baghdad, officials said Friday, taking the number of people killed during a bloody day of violence in Iraq to almost 50.

The suicide car bomber targeted a gathering of followers of the mystic Islamic Sufi movement, killing at least nine Iraqis and wounding 12 in Yethrib, a remote village near Balad, north of Baghdad, hospital Dr. Faiz Shawqi said. The suicide bomber also died.

"I was among 50 people inside the tekiya (Sufi gathering place) practicing our rites when the building was hit by a big explosion," said Ahmed Hamid, one of the Sufis, who are regarded as heretics by Islamic extremists believed responsible for suicide bombings. "Then, there was chaos everywhere and human flesh scattered all over the place."

Thursday's carnage claimed the lives of at least 48 people, including more than 30 in four suicide bombings across the country's north and a Shiite cleric in the southern city of Basra.

At least 825 people, including U.S. forces, have been killed since the new Shiite-led government was announced April 28, underscoring the fragility of this country's reconstruction.

Iraq's Interior Minister Bayan Jabr on Thursday claimed the government offensive seeking to root out kidnappers and other militants in Baghdad had scored big gains, saying this week's sweep by Iraqi soldiers and police captured 700 suspected insurgents and killed 28 militants.

But the incessant violence launched by a host of militants, from Islamic extremists to Saddam Hussein loyalists, highlights how far security authorities need to go to stop the killings.

In other recent developments:

  • Australia's top Muslim cleric, who is in Iraq trying to secure the release of 63-year-old Australian hostage Douglas Wood, said Friday that he hoped to receive news within "hours" of the captive's imminent release. He did not elaborate.
  • Gunmen killed Brig. Sabah Qara Alton, a Turkman official at Kirkuk City Council, after he left a mosque in the ethnically mixed northern city following Friday prayers, police Capt. Sarhad Talabani said.
  • Early Friday, gunmen killed Razzouq Mohammed Ibrahim, an Iraqi contractor in charge of renovating a mosque in western Samarra, and stole his car, police Lt. Qassim Mohammed said.
  • Two Iraqi civilians, including a child, were killed when their car swerved into a U.S. Bradley fighting vehicle near Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad, early Friday, the U.S. military said.
  • Earlier in Tuz Khormato, a popular highway stop 55 miles south of the oil-rich town of Kirkuk, a suicide car bomber targeted bodyguards for Iraq's Kurdish deputy prime minister as they ate at a restaurant. The blast killed 12 people.