More than 150 killed in day of Iraq slaughter

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The Independent Online

At least 100 people were killed in just one of a series of suicide attacks across Baghdad today. Hours earlier, 17 men were executed after they were dragged from their homes north of the Iraq capital.

A car bomb hit an American military convoy in eastern Baghdad, and police said that two US soldiers were wounded, though that was not confirmed by the US military. Another car bomb exploded alongside an Iraqi National Guard convoy in the northern Baghdad district of Shula, killing at least two people, authorities said.

In central Baghdad, just a few hundred meters from the Rashid Hotel that houses diplomats and foreign contractors, a suicide car bomber attacked a US convoy, police said. Fourteen Iraqi police officers were injured, although it was not clear whether there were US casualties.

The Health Ministry reported that 152 people had been killed in today's attacks, and 542 wounded.

Iraqi lawmakers, meanwhile, agreed on last-minute revisions to the contested draft constitution in an attempt to appease the disgruntled Sunni minority that has formed the core support for the country's virulent insurgency.

The worst Baghdad blast targeted a crowd of casual labourers in the Kazimiyah district, where the population is almost entirely Shiite. They were gathering before going to work on nearby construction sites, said police Maj. Musa Abdel Kerim.

He said the suicide driver drove his car into the gathering before detonating the explosive charge. One report said that the bomber lured his victims with promises of work. At least 100 people died and more than 220 were wounded.

Sunni militants have mounted a series of attacks on the Shiites in an apparent effort to provoke retaliation and a sectarian conflict. Two weeks ago, nearly 1,000 people were killed in a stampede on a nearby bridge during a Shiite religious procession. Many were trampled and crushed to death, but others drowned after falling 30 feet into the Tigris.

The executions at Taaji, 16 miles north of Baghdad, came after gunmen wearing military uniforms surrounded a village early today.

Police Lt. Waleed al-Hayali said the gunmen detained the 17 victims after searching the village. They were handcuffed and blindfolded and were later shot at a site one mile from the village.

The dead were members of the Tameem tribe, al-Hayali said. The gunmen looted the village before fleeing.

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