Car bomb kills 13 in Najaf

April 07, 2006

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NAJAF, April 6: A car bomb exploded in Najaf on Thursday, killing 13 people. The explosion prompted the authorities to impose a curfew. Police said the blast occurred in a crowded area between an ancient cemetery and the Imam Ali shrine. The shrine was not damaged.

“When the black Opel car exploded, I could only see human flesh flying in the air,” said Mahmoud Mohsin, 38, a drinks seller, who was being treated in hospital for head wounds.

Hospital officials said the bomb killed 13 people and wounded about 40 others, but police put the death toll at 15. A correspondent in the southern city saw 10 bodies and body parts on the ground.

In February, the bombing of another shrine in the town of Samarra touched off reprisals and pushed Iraq to the edge of a full-blown sectarian conflict.

The blast came amid growing calls for Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari to step down in order to boost efforts to form a government four months after elections.

Frustration among Iraqis exploded amid the carnage at the scene of the blast, where a weeping man stood clutching a severed hand and human flesh.

“Where is the government? Where is Jaafari? Where is Sistani?,” he yelled, referring to Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, the Shia leader whose calls for moderation are credited with keeping Iraq from reaching the point of no return.

Kurdish and Sunni leaders refuse to work with Mr Jaafari and senior officials in his United Iraqi Alliance say he should step aside, but Mr Jaafari keeps deflecting criticism that he failed to improve security during his year as interim prime minister.—Reuters