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Suicide Bomber Kills Children Gathered Near American Soldiers Handing Out Sweets


The new US ambassador to Iraq says recent suicide bombings in Baghdad show the true nature of the people leading the insurgency and underscore the pressing need to complete Iraq's transition to democracy.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad
Wednesday's suicide car bombing in an impoverished Baghdad neighborhood killed 27 people and injured at least 70 others. Witnesses say the car bomber sped towards American soldiers who were surrounded by children before detonating the vehicle. Among the dead, more than a dozen children and one U.S. soldier.

Speaking at a foreign press briefing in Washington, Zalmay Khalilzad, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, called the attacks, barbaric. "They go after children, go after workers who come to assist the Iraqi people."

Some stunned Iraqi's blamed U.S. troops for the civilian casualties, saying soldiers should not have used candy and gifts to draw children to military targets. A French News agency reported some of the bodies of the young victims in a local morgue were still clutching chocolate bars.

The White House has strongly denounced the attacks. Spokesman Scott McClellan says there can be no justification for the murder of innocent civilians, particularly children.

"The terrorists are seeking to do everything they can to derail the transition to democracy but every step of the way the Iraqi people have shown that they are determined to build a free and peaceful society."

Ambassador Khalilzad says he's eager to help in the country's transition. He says his priorities include isolating the foreign terrorists and 'breaking the back of the insurgency'. "I think if we make progress we would be fundamentally changing the situation, weakening the insurgents although episodically there could be an increase in violence."

This was the second major suicide bombing this week in Iraq's capital. On Sunday, A suicide bomber killed 25 people at an army recruiting center.