Suicide bomber kills 8 in Baghdad mosque

By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer Mon Mar 19, 7:17 AM ET

BAGHDAD - A bomb exploded during prayers at a Shiite mosque in the capital Monday, killing at least eight worshippers and wounding nearly three dozen on the eve of the war's fourth anniversary, police said.

The attack occurred about 12:30 p.m., shattering windows and damaging a wall of the small green-domed mosque that is situated among several shops in the central Shorja market area.

Police initially blamed it on a suicide bomber trying to enter the building but later said the blast was caused by a bomb placed in the corner behind the preacher's podium, leaving a crater in the floor.

Gheith Jassim, the 32-year-old owner of a textile shop near the mosque said he rushed to the site of the blast in a panic because he feared his brother had planned to attend prayers there. His brother had missed the prayers, but Jassim found a scene of carnage.

"When I arrived, I saw several wounded people being taken by ambulances and they were screaming from fear and injuries. There were bloodstains on the wall and some carpets were burned," he said in a telephone interview.

Jassim said some worshippers at the scene were cursing Sunni extremists.

"We are not saved from them even during prayers," he said. "They want to ignite Sunni-Shiite strife."

Iraqi authorities have imposed strict security in the area to prevent car bombings as part of the Baghdad security crackdown aimed at stopping the sectarian violence that has devastated the capital. While the capital has seen a decline in execution-style killings and random shootings during the operation, bombings have continued.

Last month, a massive truck bomb in the busy Shorja market area killed 137 people.


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