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Baghdad restaurant bomb kills 23

BBC | June 20, 2005

A suicide bomber has killed at least 23 people in a restaurant near the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

At least six of those killed were policemen. The blast - claimed by the group of Iraq's most wanted rebel Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - injured 36 people.

The bomber walked into the restaurant and set off his charge as people were having lunch, police said.

More than 1,000 people - mostly Iraqis - have been killed since the new government was formed in April.

The attack came despite an operation by about 1,000 US and Iraqi troops north-west of Baghdad aimed at improving security in the Iraqi capital.

Everything came flying out
Alaa Mahmud, eyewitness

And across Iraq, insurgents kept up their raids on security forces.

  • in north-western Baghdad, three die when a car bomb targets a police convoy near a mosque

  • gunmen kill two police officers as they head to work in western Baghdad

  • a suicide car bomber kills at least three Iraqi soldiers and wounds nine others in the northern town of Tikrit

  • a civilian dies and at least eight other people are injured in a mortar attack in the northern town of Mosul.

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The bomber entered the Ibn Zanbour (Son of the Wasp) kebab restaurant at 1445 (1045 GMT), killing many policemen and security guards.

"I went to buy a sandwich when it happened," said Alaa Mahmud, 22, who works at a nearby tea house. "Everything came flying out."

The restaurant - near a police checkpoint - was popular with both Iraqi army soldiers and police officers.

It is located about 400m (yards) from the main gate of the heavily fortified Green Zone - home to the Iraqi government and major embassies, and one of Baghdad's most patrolled areas.

"This is a crime, is this something that God would condone?" said a soldier at the scene as his comrades fired into the air to force people to back away.

Sunday's attack comes as US-led forces claim success in a major raid near the Syrian border. About 1,000 US and Iraqi troops are engaged in a fierce battle there.

Some 50 rebels have been killed and another 100 captured since the start of Operation Spear on Friday, the US military says.

British warplanes were called in to support the American-led operation in an unusual move, says the BBC's Jon Leyne in Baghdad.


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