Suicide bomber kills 23 near Baghdad
AFP - 1 hour 7 minutes ago
BAGHDAD (AFP) - - A suicide bomber killed 23 people and wounded at least 42 on Friday at a tribal meeting near the Iraqi capital, officials said, one day after the United States handed back part of the security brief to Iraq.
The bomber detonated his explosives vest at a lunch meeting of Sunni Arab sheikhs in al-Yusufiyah, a small town south of Baghdad, after sneaking in through the back of the building, Atta said.
"Twenty-three people were killed and at least 42 injured," Atta said. "The suicide bomber was a member of the tribe who was close to the leading local sheikh."
"He entered the meeting through a back door," he added.
The bombing came one day after the United States handed over security control of the Green Zone in Baghdad and other military facilities to Iraq as a UN mandate for foreign troops expired.
A defence ministry source said the bombing took place at about 2pm (1100 GMT).
Attacks of all types are down sharply across Iraq in recent months although insurgents are still able to strike throughout the country, US commanders say.
US forces have recruited Iraq's powerful tribes to the fight against Al-Qaeda, particularly in Sunni Arab areas, making them a target for jihadists.
Suicide bombings in particular are a hallmark of insurgents linked to the Al-Qaeda network.
Friday's attack surpassed in scale a bombing on December 27, when a massive blast tore through a crowd gathered near a bus station in central in a Shiite neighbourhood of Baghdad, killing at least 22 people and wounding 54.
Throughout Iraq in December a total nuber 316 Iraqis were killed in political violence, the lowest monthly death toll in nearly three years, according to official figures released on Thursday.
In all, 6,772 Iraqis were killed in Iraq last year, down from 17,430 in 2007.
The situation appears to have stabilised across the country but violence, mainly through bomb attacks and assassinations, remains an almost daily occurrence, though usually on a smaller scale than previously.
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