At least 65 killed in attack in Baghdad Shi'ite stronghold

BAGHDAD Sun Sep 22, 2013 1:13am EDT

1 of 2. A man walks through the remains of a tent that was hit by a triple bomb attack in Baghdad's Sadr City September 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Wissm al-Okili

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 65 people were killed in a triple bombing that targeted a tent filled with mourners in Baghdad's Shi'ite Muslim stronghold of Sadr City on Saturday, police and medical sources said.

A car bomb went off near the tent where a funeral was being held, a suicide bomber driving a car then blew himself up, and a third explosion followed as police, ambulances and firefighter were gathering at the scene, police said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, in which at least 120 others were wounded, medics said.

"Crowds of people were visiting the tent to offer their condolences when suddenly a powerful blast ... threw me to ground," said 35-year-old Basim Raheem.

"When I tried to get up, a second blast happened. My clothes were covered with blood and human flesh. I thought I was wounded, but later discovered I was lying in a pool of others' blood," he added.

A Reuters reporter said distraught survivors attacked policemen and firefighters who tried to move them away from the scene. Puddles of blood surrounded the tent.

In a separate incident, at least eight people were killed when a car bomb exploded in a busy street in the predominantly Shi'ite Ur district of northern Baghdad, police said.

Iraq's delicate sectarian balance has come under growing strain from the civil war in neighboring Syria, where mainly Sunni Muslim rebels are fighting to overthrow a leader backed by Shi'ite Iran.

Both Sunnis and Shi'ites have crossed into Syria from Iraq to fight on opposite sides of the conflict.

Al Qaeda's Iraqi and Syrian branches merged earlier this year to form the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has claimed responsibility for attacks on both sides of the border.

Around 800 Iraqis were killed in acts of violence in August, according to the United Nations.

Earlier on Saturday, four attackers killed six officers in an assault on a police station in Baiji, about 110 miles north of Baghdad.

(Reporting by Kareem Raheem; Writing by Isabel Coles; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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