Suicide bomber kills 49 at Iraq funeral

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A suicide bomber struck a funeral in northern Iraq today, killing 49 mourners and wounding 50 in an attack that suggests militants have launched a new campaign of violence in the north.

One wounded mourner said the funeral had been for two members of a US-backed neighbourhood security unit who were killed recently. Blame is likely to fall on Sunni Islamist al-Qa'ida, which has vowed to target the neighbourhood units because they work with US forces.

The attack was one of the deadliest in Iraq for months and underscored the ability of militants to wreak havoc despite overall falls in violence that has prompted the United States to start withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Police said the bomber detonated a suicide vest in a Sunni Arab village near the town of Adhaim in Diyala province.

"Suddenly a fireball filled the funeral tent. I fell to the ground. I saw bodies scattered everywhere," said wounded mourner Ali Khalaf, who was taken to the town of Tuz Khurmato for treatment.

He said he saw bodies being piled into pickup trucks.

Northern Iraq has seen an upsurge in bombings this week, including one that killed 40 people in the town of Baquba, capital of Diyala, on Tuesday.