28/02/2005

Over 100 feared dead in Iraq bombing

A massive car bomb in Hilla, Iraq has killed more than 100 people according to reports from Iraq this morning.

The suicide bomber exploded a device in a car close to a group of people who were queuing to apply for government jobs. The blast killed over a hundred and there are more than a hundred injured being treated in local hospitals.

The attack is the worst incident since the run up to the elections held in January, which saw an orchestrated campaign by insurgents to disrupt the polls.

News agencies have reported that local hospitals are struggling to cope with the numbers of injured and medical teams have been dispatched to assist.

It is understood that some of those injured were at a crowded market, which was near to the queue which was apparently the intended target of the car bomber.

Hilla, which is some 60 miles south of Baghdad, is a predominantly Shia Muslim town.

In recent weeks, Sunni militants have been attacking Shias in an attempt to drive a wedge between the two groups as elected representatives hold talks on the formation of a new Iraqi government.

Prime Minister Tony Blair condemned the bomb attack, saying:"All civilised people should feel nothing but revulsion for the terrorists who can kill innocent Iraqis who only want to help build a new democracy and a better society."

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw echoed the Prime Minister's statement saying: "There is no place for these horrific attacks in a civilised society. I was very sad to hear the loss of more innocent lives in Iraq and my thoughts go out to all the families and friends of those killed and injured. The recent, very successful, elections in Iraq have shown that the Iraqi people overwhelmingly desire a democratic future after far too many years of terror and destruction. To attack and kill the very people who are trying to contribute positively to the new Iraq is the height of callous brutality. We fully support the efforts of the Iraqi Government and security forces to track down and bring to justice the perpetrators of these terrible crimes."

(SP)

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