Suicide bombers kill 85 in two Iraqi cities

Iraq suicide bombKARBALA, Iraq, January 5, 2006 (Reuters) – Two suicide bombers killed at least 85 people and wounded more than 100 in the Iraqi cities of Karbala and Ramadi on Thursday in one of the country’s deadliest days for months.

The attacks raised fears of an escalation in sectarian tensions, coming as they did in one of Shia Islam’s holiest cities, Karbala, and the Sunni Arab stronghold of Ramadi.
The first bomber detonated an explosive belt laced with ballbearings and a grenade in Karbala, killing 50 and wounding 69 in the worst single attack in Iraq since July.
Television pictures showed pools of blood in the street, which was littered with debris. Passers-by loaded the wounded into the backs of cars and vans, and one black-clad woman stood crying while clutching her dead or wounded baby to her chest.
Soon afterwards, another bomber blew himself up near a group of police and army recruits in the western city of Ramadi, a day after seemingly coordinated attacks across Iraq killed at least 58.
The Ramadi attack, which killed 35 and wounded around 40, was the latest in a long string of assaults on police and army recruits, tasked with taking over the lead in the fight against the largely Sunni Arab insurgency from the US military.
The assault in Karbala was the second in the city in as many days and happened within sight of the golden dome of the Imam Hussein shrine, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam.
“The bomb was caused by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt, walking among people,” said Lieutentant-Colonel Razak Al Taee of the Iraqi police.
“Explosives experts found wires, ballbearings and a grenade used in the explosion,” he told Al Iraqiya state television. ”Experts estimate he used between 7 and 8 kg (15-18 lb) of TNT (explosives).”