Page last updated at 09:05 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 10:05 UK

Rogue Iraq militia 'ordered bomb'


Mourners carrying coffins lead the funeral procession

The US military has blamed a rogue Shia Muslim militia for Tuesday's deadly car bombing in the mainly Shia Hurriya neighbourhood of Baghdad.

The confirmed death has risen to 63, Iraqi police said, making it the worst attack in the capital since March.

Many victims were trapped by a fire which engulfed a nearby building.

US officials said the attack may have been ordered to incite Sunni-Shia violence and prevent displaced Sunnis returning to their homes in Hurriya.

Hurriya map
Intelligence information from multiple sources indicated a so-called "special group" led by Haydar Mehdi Khadum al-Fawadi was to blame, said US spokesman Lt Col Steve Stover.

Initial speculation had been that Sunni Muslim extremists connected to al-Qaeda - blamed for most bombings targeting Shia areas in Baghdad - may have carried out the attack.

The car exploded near a crowded bus stop in a commercial area in Hurriya, scene of some of the bloodiest sectarian and anti-US insurgency violence in recent years.

Witnesses said the blast set fire to a shared generator which spread to a two-storey building containing both shops and flats.

The attack followed a sharp drop in insurgency and sectarian violence in Baghdad, the result of crackdowns on Sunni Arab and Shia extremists and moves among Sunni communities to eradicate al-Qaeda-inspired groups.

Some 500 Iraqis were killed last month, compared with more than 1,000 in April.

And the toll of American soldiers killed in May - at 19 - was the lowest monthly figure since the conflict began.

The US military, which led an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein's government five years ago, has repeatedly warned that security improvements are reversible.

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Springfield News SunUS: Shiite 'special group' behind Iraq bombing - 3 hrs ago
Helena Independent Massive bombing upsets recent calm in Baghdad - 4 hrs ago
The Sun News Iraq shows resolve after deadly car bombing - 5 hrs ago
Casper Star Tribune Car bomb shatters Baghdad's calm, kills 51 - 6 hrs ago
Times of India 51 killed in Baghdad bomb blast - 7 hrs ago
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