Baghdad Bomb Kills at Least 27, U.S. Blames Al Qaeda

Thursday
08:24:58 AM
March
18 2004

Baghdad Bomb Kills at Least 27, U.S. Blames Al Qaeda

By Luke Baker and Suleiman al-Khalidi

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BAGHDAD - Rescuers said Thursday there were no more survivors in the rubble of a central Baghdad neighborhood shattered by a powerful car bomb that killed at least 27 people and wounded dozens.

The U.S. army said Wednesday night's attack, which devastated the small Mount Lebanon hotel and neighboring residential buildings, bore the hallmark of the Ansar al-Islam militant group or of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian accused by Washington of working for al Qaeda to sow chaos in Iraq.

Rescuers, some using bare hands, worked into the early hours of Thursday trying to find people trapped under the smoldering ruins. Locals helped carry away bodies torn apart by the blast.

By first light, smoke was still rising from a smoldering house, its front wall ripped off in the explosion. On the upper story, a picture still hung on the wall, a mattress and carpet lying on the floor of what used to be somebody's bedroom.

In another attack Wednesday, the U.S. army said, mortars fired on a U.S. base near Baghdad killed one American soldier and wounded seven, bringing to 390 the number of U.S. troops killed in action since the start of the war a year ago.

The car bomb attack marred a White House campaign to stress the progress made in Iraq in the year since the war began.

"We will meet this test with strength and resolve. Democracy is taking root in Iraq and there is no turning back," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

"This is a time of testing. We will continue to stay to finish the job for the Iraqi people."

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry stepped up his criticism of President Bush, charging that U.S. troops were bogged down in Iraq with no end in sight.

Vice President Dick Cheney defended Bush and attacked Kerry in a speech in California.

"American leaders, above all the commander in chief, must be confident in our nation's cause, and unwavering until the danger to our people is fully and finally removed," he said.

Source by Reuters


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