Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Terrorists murder celebrating football fans in Iraq

Two terrorist bomb attacks in Iraq have killed at least 50 people and injured 135 in Baghdad as crowds celebrated a famous Asian Cup semi-final victory by the national football team. The first strike killed 30 people in the Mansour district, where fans were marking Iraq's win against South Korea. Twenty died in the next blast, at an army checkpoint in east Baghdad. Thousands had gathered on the streets of Baghdad, dancing and chanting in a rare moment of national unity.

Police say at least 130 people were wounded in the two attacks, which deliberately targeted celebrating football fans. Some 75 of those were hurt in Mansour, where a car exploded in the midst of an excited crows, and almost 60 injured by the attack on the checkpoint.

Nicholas Witchell in Baghdad told the BBC the football team's win was a genuine moment of national pride and pleasure which had crossed the sectarian divisions between Iraq's different communities. Just as the Iraqi team has Sunni and Shia Muslims and Kurds playing alongside each other, the celebrations brought members of all those communities out onto the streets, he added. "I am nearly crying for joy," 30-year-old fan Nuri al-Najjar told Reuters in the southern city of Basra. "Iraq's victory with this harmonious team represents the way we should all live together."

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