MOSUL, May 1: A suicide car bomb ripped through a Kurdish funeral in northern Iraq on Sunday, killing 25 people and wounding 30, as a new hostage crisis erupted with an Australian pleading for his life in a new videotape.

Another 14 Iraqis were killed in relentless violence around the country, but officials announced they had found new evidence on the mysterious disappearance of British aid worker Margaret Hassan with the arrest of several suspects.

The bomber ploughed his vehicle into mourners gathered for the funeral of a Kurdish official in the northern Iarqi city of Tall Afar at around 6pm (1400 GMT), a source at the Kurdistan Democratic Party told AFP.

“Twenty-five people were killed and more than 30 wounded in the attack,” said Khusru Kuran, who is also deputy governor of the northern Nineveh province.

The mourners were gathered in Tall Afar for the funeral of Taleb Sayed Wahba, also a KDP official, who was gunned down by militants in the nearby city of Mosul on Saturday.

Clashes then broke out when gunmen emerged on the scene of the bombing and prevented ambulances from evacuating the victims before being confronted by army and police forces, Mr Khusru added.

A videotape broadcast by Britain’s Sky News television indicated an Australian citizen by the name of Douglas Wood may have been kidnapped in Iraq.

The tape shows an ashen-faced man in his 60s who demands the withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq, and says he fears for his life. No official source could confirm that an Australian was missing. In Canberra, Australian officials were working to determine the identity of the man pleading for his life on the tape.

Meanwhile, five Iraqi police were killed when a group of around 30 insurgents stormed a checkpoint on the southern edge of the capital, taking them by surprise, an interior ministry official said.

Militants loyal to Al Qaeda’s Iraq frontman Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said they carried out the attack, in a statement posted on the Internet. Five Iraqi civilians — including a young girl — were also killed and 12 wounded in southeast Baghdad when a car bomb exploded as a US military convoy drove by, the official said.

In a second Baghdad car bomb targeting a US military convoy, a child was killed and 10 civilians wounded. A Baghdad municipal official in charge of the sewage system was also gunned down in his car, while two men working for an Iraqi construction company were also shot dead in Baghdad.—AFP

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