35 corpses found in Iraq
Associated Press | March 9, 2005
Iraqi police said today that 35 corpses, some of them headless, have been found in the west of the country and south of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, a suicide bomber detonated a rubbish truck packed with explosives in Baghdad this morning outside the agriculture ministry and a hotel used by western contractors, killing himself and at least three others.
Elsewhere, militants attacked a police patrol with a roadside bomb in the southern city of Basra, killing one policeman and wounding three more.
Twenty of the corpses were found late yesterday in a field near Rumana, a village about 12 miles east of the western city of Qaim, near the Syrian border, police Captain Muzahim al-Karbouli said. Each of the bodies had been riddled with bullets.
It is thought that they had all been killed several days ago. The bodies were found wearing civilian clothes, Capt Karbouli said, and the dead included one woman.
Another 15 headless bodies were found by Iraqi troops yesterday south of the capital in the town of Latifiya, a volatile area which the US-led coalition has struggled to control. The bodies were inside an abandoned former army base, said Captain Sabah Yassin, of the Iraqi defence ministry.
Some reports last year suggested Latifiya was the town where British engineer Ken Bigley might have been beheaded by the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose militant group are now aligned with al-Qaida. His body has not been found.
The bodies discovered there yesterday include 10 men, three women and two children. Their identities, like those found in western Iraq, were not known.
Capt Yassin said some of the dead men in Latifiya were thought to have been part of a group of Iraqi soldiers who were kidnapped by insurgents in the area two weeks ago.
Today's truck bombing in central Baghdad shook nearby buildings in the heart of the capital, injuring dozens of people and filling the sky with black smoke. Volleys of automatic weapons fire could be heard before and after the explosion.
Police said a group of insurgents wearing police uniforms shot dead a guard at the agriculture ministry's gate, allowing the truck to enter a compound the ministry shares with the adjacent Sadeer hotel. Guards then fired on the vehicle, trying to disable it before it exploded. Several vehicles were burning at the scene and a pair of US military helicopters circled overhead as ambulances retrieved the wounded.
Officials at the city's al-Kindi hospital said at least three dead and eight wounded were taken there. Another hospital counted at least 27 wounded.
The violence came a day after the US military announced it was speeding up an inquiry into the fatal shooting of an Italian agent killed on Friday by US troops at a Baghdad checkpoint.
The agent was escorting Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena to the airport just after insurgents freed her when US troops shot at the car. The incident has strained relations with Italy, which has been a strong American ally.
Today, the military opened a separate inquiry into the shooting of a Bulgarian soldier who Bulgarian officials believe may have been killed accidentally by coalition troops. In Bulgaria, the death of Private Gardi Gardev has made the country's presence in Iraq an issue ahead of general elections in June.
Italy has 3,000 troops in Iraq, while Bulgaria has 460. Both countries have said they will not withdraw their troops, but domestic pressure to bring them home is growing.