Forty-eight die in Iraq suicide bombings

By Kim Sengupta

Suicide bombers killed 48 people in Iraq yesterday, one of the attacks taking place outside a hospital as US troops arrived with Thanksgiving Day presents for young patients.

The explosion at the General Hospital at Mahmoudiyah in the so called 'triangle of death' killed 34 and injured 39 others.

Some members of bereaved families and local people blamed the Americans for attracting the lethal attention of insurgents with their visit.

Three children, four women, six members of the medical staff and seven policemen were among those who died.

Hoda Ali Mahmoud, 30, was leaving the hospital with her 18-month old son when the suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives.

" I was carrying my little boy in my arms. The glass just flew at us when it happened and it hit him on the face", she said.

"I was knocked down. When I got up he was already dead. I had taken him to the hospital because he had a bad cold."

Mohammed Rashid's 18-year-old brother, Yasin, received severe chest injuries.

"Why did the Americans come here?" he shouted.

"They must have known they would bring the killers with them." Hasna Aboud's son had gone to the hospital to get her medicine.

"He was my only son. He was 22 years old and he was going to get married next week," she said as she cried.

"Only Iraqis got killed, got hurt here, not the Americans."

Four Americans were hurt in the bombing, their injuries described as "not life threatening." US officials said that, as well as taking presents, the soldiers had gone to the hospital to see how facilities could be improved.

Dr Dawoud al-Taie, the director of the Mahmoudiyah hospital, said many of those caught up in the blast had very serious injuries and were not expected to survive.

A separate suicide bombing yesterday at a market in Hillah killed 14 people and injured 10 others.

The mixed Shia and Sunni town has frequently been the target of bombings.

The explosion set fire to a row of stalls and parked cars.

A vehicle was stopped west of Baghdad carrying children's toys which had been booby trapped with hand grenades and shrapnel, according to a police spokesman.

Yesterday's bombings were the latest in a series which have killed around 210 people in seven days.

Laith Kuba, the official spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Ibrahim Jaffari, predicted that the scale of violence would continue to climb in the run-up to the national elections on 15th December.

* Defence lawyers acting for Saddam Hussein and his fellow defendants announced they have withdrawn their threat to boycott the trial when it starts next Monday.

"All the lawyers will attend the trial", said Issam Ghazwai on behalf of the defence team.

"A decision has been taken no to leave the President alone." Two of the defence lawyers have been killed in attacks the defence tram blames on paramilitaries linked to the government.

Another one, injured in an attack, had fled the country and is seeking political asylum in Qatar.

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