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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Car bomb attack kills 16 in Basra
Scene of the Basra bombing
The bombing destroyed nearby houses and vehicles
At least 16 people have been killed and 20 injured in a car bomb attack in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

The explosion took place on Wednesday evening outside a restaurant near the city centre which was packed with members of the Iraqi security forces.

It was the worst car bombing in Basra since the US-led invasion in 2003.

The attack follows the killing of four US security guards and two British soldiers in separate incidents near Basra earlier this week.

A BBC correspondent in Baghdad, Jon Brain, says the increase in violence in southern Iraq, which is under British control, suggests the insurgents are beginning to gain a foothold in the area, which has been relatively peaceful.

The device exploded on a street packed with restaurant-goers in the centre of Basra's Hayaniyah district.

At least two children were among the dead.

A number of nearby shops and police vehicles were destroyed.

Although such attacks are common in central and northern Iraq, the south, predominantly populated by Shia Muslims, has been comparatively peaceful.

In other violence, Iraqi police say they have found 13 bodies south of the capital, Baghdad. Eleven were found near the town of Rustamiya, and another two in Iskandariya.

All the victims had been shot.

The bodies were found in an area many Iraqis call the Triangle of Death - an area where the mainly Sunni-dominated central Iraq meets the Shia-dominated provinces to the south.

Sunni and Shia leaders have each accused the other's communities of involvement in killings in the area.

See the destruction caused by the car bomb


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