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Car Bombs Kill More Than 150 in Iraq


In Baghdad, nearly a dozen car bombs exploded throughout the day Wednesday in and around the Iraqi capital, killing more than 150 people and wounding scores of others. The al-Qaida terrorist organization in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the well-coordinated attacks.

The first and the bloodiest attack of the day occurred early Wednesday morning in the mainly Shi'ite district of Kadhimiyah, north of Baghdad.

Witnesses say a man, posing as a potential employer, pulled up in a car near a large group of poor day laborers, assembled in a large square, hoping to be hired.

Thirty year-old Jassim Khazal say he was walking toward the square when he says he heard the stranger shout that he had some jobs to offer the men.

Mr. Khazal says the prospect for work immediately caused a large crowd to form around the man's car. Mr. Khazal says the man got out of the vehicle and remotely detonated the explosives packed inside.

Minutes later, ambulances snaked their way around body parts, smoking debris and burning cars to reach the dead and wounded. Local men arrived with wooden carts to help carry some of wounded to local hospitals.

Others simply broke down and began weeping, unable to deal with yet another mass tragedy, which has struck the area in the past two weeks.

Wednesday's car bombing took place just 700 meters away from a Shi'ite shrine and near a bridge in Kadhimiyah, where the Iraqi government says hundreds of people died in a tragic accident on August 31.

The bombing in Kadhimiyah was followed, sometimes minutes apart, by 11 other car bombings in and around Baghdad, mostly targeting U.S. and Iraqi forces.

At least five suicide car bombers attacked American military convoys, wounding at least seven U.S. troops. Another suicide bomber, believed to be a Syrian, was killed by American soldiers after he unsuccessfully tried to ram his car into the side of an M-1 A-1 Abrams tank.

In the early afternoon, a car bomb also exploded in Damascus Square, near the heavily-guarded International Zone in central Baghdad. The blast killed five civilians and wounded four others.

A statement posted on an Internet website shortly after the attack in Kadhimiyah suggested that the terrorist group al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had planned and executed the bombings in retaliation for the Iraqi-U.S. military offensive in the northern city of Tal Afar.

The Shi'ite-led Iraqi government says the offensive, which began on Saturday, was launched to rid Tal Afar of Sunni militants and foreign fighters, who had been terrorizing local residents there in recent months.

Iraqi officials say since Saturday, many militants and foreign fighters have been killed in clashes. But they also acknowledge that many others probably fled Tal Afar and moved to other parts of Iraq before the offensive began.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops in the town of Taji, just north of Baghdad, say they have not been able to verify reports that gunmen, wearing Iraqi military uniforms, dragged 17 villagers out of their houses early Wednesday morning and executed them.

U.S. military officials say the report came to them in the form of an anonymous tip. But when troops went to investigate, they said they found no evidence of the alleged incident.