Iraqis bury dead after banquet bomb

A049142713.jpgBAGHDAD (Reuters) – An Iraqi clan overwhelmed by shock and grief buried its dead on Monday after a suicide bomber killed 25 people at a celebratory banquet in west Baghdad.

Male relatives, some still wearing robes stained with blood from carrying the dead, wailed prayers over the bodies laid out in shrouds at the mosque at dawn in Abu Ghraib, a Sunni Arab district on the far western outskirts of the capital.

At Toufash Kroush’s home, where the bombing took place late on Sunday, pools of blood covered the floor. Flies swirled over mounds of rice and lamb, set out in the garden for the outdoor feast Toufash had arranged to celebrate the release of his son Sami from a U.S. prison camp.

Sami was among those killed.

“They were having the feast when a stranger walked in and blew himself up. It is a criminal act. I cannot believe that a Muslim man could do it,” said Abu Ahmed, a neighbor.

“All those who were killed are innocent people. What did the children do? What did the women do? Most of those killed are elderly people.”

Police said 25 people had been killed and 38 wounded, some of them evacuated in U.S. military helicopters. They said the dead included members of U.S.-backed neighborhood patrols, often a target of al Qaeda Sunni Arab militants.

Abu Ghraib is located on the highway heading west from the capital into Anbar province, an area once in the grip of al Qaeda but now controlled by U.S.-backed tribal groups.

U.S. and Iraqi authorities say suicide bombings are the signature tactic of al Qaeda, which has often attacked other Sunnis since Sunni tribes turned against them two years ago.

Iraq has become far less dangerous over the past year, but militants are still able to carry out large-scale bombings.

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