New Wave of Bomb Attacks Engulfs Iraq
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
In Iraq today, the war itself raged on. In a quiet town in the Northeast of the country, suicide bombers destroyed two Shiite mosques that were crowded for Friday prayers. At least 70 people were killed and 100 wounded. In another attack, at least six Iraqis were killed in a coordinated bombing of a hotel in Baghdad. That hotel has been a favorite of Westerners, including members of the media. NPR's Peter Kenyon is in Baghdad.
PETER KENYON reporting:
Friday morning is a quiet time in much of the Muslim world, but by noon, people are streaming into their local mosques for the midday prayers. In Khanaqin, not far from the Iranian border, scores of Shiite Muslims filled the Sheik Murad and the Khanaqin Grand mosques. According to witnesses, during the prayer an explosion was heard outside, a car bomb going off. Then, as the imams began their chant of `Allahu Akbar,' suicide bombers in both mosques set off tremendous fireballs amid the worshipers. Survivors said the roof collapsed on one mosque, adding to the death toll.
With the victims mostly if not all Shiite, suspicion immediately fell on the largely Sunni insurgency. The provincial head of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party sought to reach across the sectarian divide, condemning the attacks and offering blood donations from party members.
In central Baghdad this morning, an unnerving replay of a bomb attack from last month. This time the target was the Hamra Hotel, home to several media organizations. Like last month's attack on the Palestine and Sheraton hotels, a van blew out a concrete blast wall and a truck tried to get through the hole to the hotel. But once again the truck got stuck in the rubble and exploded where it was. The explosions were so large that some 30 cars, many of them armored, were heavily damaged or destroyed. Most of an apartment building collapsed, and Iraqi soldiers and firefighters cleared rubble for hours to reach the wounded underneath. Once again, Iraqis learned that the most dangerous place in Baghdad is not necessarily next to the Americans, but next to their security walls. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Baghdad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.