Death toll in southern Iraq car bomb attacks lowered to 25
Stars and Stripes
Iraqi officials on Thursday lowered the death toll in Wednesday’s car bomb attacks in southern Iraq from 41 to 25, though the number could rise again with many severely wounded still being treated in hospitals.
No group has yet taken responsibility for the three car bombs that struck Amarah, a Shiite town in southern Maysan province, on Wednesday. The blasts wounded at least 130 others, Iraqi officials said.
Iraqi and American officials on Thursday had no official word on who they believe mounted the attacks.
While simultaneous blasts are often a hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq, a Sunni terror group, the area has seen competition between rival Shiite militia groups.
On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, the overall commander in Iraq, issued a joint statement condemning the attack.
“The United States extends its deepest condolences, support and prayers to the people of Maysan Province,” the statement read. “The Maysan Provincial Reconstruction Team and Multi-National Division South East are working closely with Iraqi authorities to ensure they have sufficient medical supplies and humanitarian assistance for the citizens of al Amarah. We stand ready to provide additional support as needed.”
The bombing was the deadliest attack since August in Iraq, where U.S. military officials have credited a “surge” or more than 30,000 troops this year with reducing violence.
A partial driving ban was imposed in some areas near the blast, and funerals already were being held for the victims, Iraqi officials said.
The Associated Press reported that police in the market area struck by the bombs called out over loudspeakers on Thursday to ask citizens to watch for anything unusual. Residents were cleaning up debris and sweeping up shattered windows.