Suicide bomb kills 48 in Iraq as US troops celebrate Thanksgiving

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Suicide bombers killed 48 people in Iraq yesterday, one of the attacks taking place outside a hospital as US troops arrived with Thanksgiving Day presents for young patients.

The explosion at the General Hospital at Mahmoudiyah in the so-called "triangle of death" killed 34 and injured 39 others. Some members of bereaved families and local people blamed the Americans for attracting the lethal attention of insurgents with their visit.

Three children, four women, six members of the medical staff and seven policemen were among those who died.

Hoda Ali Mahmoud, 30, was leaving the hospital with her 18-month-old son when the suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives. "I was carrying my little boy in my arms. The glass just flew at us when it happened and it hit him on the face," she said. "I was knocked down. When I got up he was already dead. I had taken him to the hospital because he had a bad cold."

Mohammed Rashid's 18-year-old brother, Yasin, suffered severe chest injuries. "Why did the Americans come here?" he shouted. "They must have known they would bring the killers with them."

Four Americans were hurt in the bombing but their injuries were described as "not life-threatening". US officials said that as well as taking presents, the soldiers had gone to the hospital to see how facilities could be improved. A separate suicide bombing at a market in Hillah killed 14 people.

* Lawyers acting for Saddam Hussein and his fellow defendants have withdrawn a threat to boycott their trial for crimes against humanity when it starts on Monday. Two defence lawyers have been assassinated and another has fled the country after being injured.