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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 February, 2004, 22:52 GMT
Irbil bombings toll reaches 101
Mourner at the funeral of two Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) officials killed in the attacks in Irbil
Funerals have been held for the victims of the two suicide bombings
The death toll from the weekend's twin suicide bombings in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil has risen to 101.

At least 67 people were killed and 200 wounded in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on offices of the two main Kurdish political parties.

Senior local leaders were among those killed as guests gathered to celebrate the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha.

A cameraman who was filming the event at Patriotic Union of Kurdistan offices described seeing the alleged bomber.

Saadi Sultan Mameh told The Associated Press he saw a man dressed in beige trousers and a blue-and-white check shirt go to greet a PUK official.

He then heard a terrific bang and "my camera lens went red with blood".

"All those who died were my friends and colleagues," said the 27-year-old who suffered leg injuries in the blast. "We were like family".

He added: "I have watched the clip more than 50 times. The only gratification it gives me is that I was able to film the moment so that the truth would be known. So that al-Qaeda would be exposed. There would be evidence."

Unity pledge

Kurds blame local Islamist militant groups, with possible links to al-Qaeda, for the attacks. No group has yet claimed responsibility.

Irbil has declared three days of official mourning.

RECENT MAJOR ATTACKS
1 February: At least 56 killed by twin suicide bombings during celebrations in Kurdish city of Irbil
18 January: 18 reported killed outside coalition HQ, Baghdad
14 December: Car bomb at police station kills 17 in Khalidiya, west of Baghdad
12 November: 26 die in suicide attack on Italian base in Nasiriya

Leaders of the rival PUK and Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) say they are both committed to greater unity following the attacks.

In an exchange of letters, KDP's Massoud Barzani and PUK's Jalal Talabani said they must work together to end terrorist acts.

The BBC's Barbara Plett says this is the biggest political assassination since the killing of a senior Shia cleric leader in August.

Meanwhile, a US soldier was killed and another wounded on Tuesday near Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad, during an operation to clear roadside bombs.

On the same day, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan confirmed he would send a team of experts to Baghdad to advise on the handover of political power in Iraq.

The Bush administration wants to hand over to a transitional Iraqi government selected by regional meetings in the summer, but Iraq's Shia majority have called for direct elections.


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