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68 Killed, 200 Injured In Basra Blasts
by iol
Wednesday Apr 21st, 2004 6:52 AM
BASRA, Iraq, April 21 ( & News Agencies) – At least 68 people were killed and 200 others injured early Wednesday, April 21, in a series of car bombs that devastated three police stations in this southern Iraqi city.

Three Iraqis were also killed in a separate attack on the Iraqi police academy in Al-Zubeir town, south of Basra, Iraq’s second largest city.

Mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades were also fired at the three facilities before the booby-trapped cars went off, Aljazeera television quoted security sources as saying.

British military media spokesman Hisham Halawa confirmed that they were car bombs, adding that the coordinated explosions occurred at about 7:15 a.m. (04:15 a.m. GMT).

Among the dead were many children, who had been going to kindergarten in a minibus that was caught in one blast, eyewitnesses said.

A security official told that many policemen and civilians were also caught in the blasts.

Osama Abdel Karim, an 18-year-old university student, told that one of the blasts was so strong that it reduced to rubble the city’s main police station.

He said windows of nearby houses and buildings were smashed in the explosions.

British troops were only able to reach one of the three doomed stations after they had been rained down with stones by angry Iraqis.

"They are being stoned," squadron leader John Arnold was quoted as saying by Reuters.

He added that no casualties among British forces had been reported.

A Reuters reporter has counted 55 corpses at the morgue of Sadr Teaching Hospital.

A doctor told the correspondent that the bodies of 39 victims had been identified while at least 16 other bodies were burnt beyond recognition.

Also on Wednesday, three Iraqis were killed and two British soldiers wounded in an explosion at the new Iraqi police academy in Al-Zubeir town, some 30 kilometers south of Basra, Aljazeera said.

The killer blasts came just one day after 22 prisoners were killed and some 92 others injured in a mortar attack on the U.S.-run Abu Gharib prison, west of Baghdad.

Iraqi police stations and facilities had come under frequent attacks since the fall of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein regime one year ago.

In February, some 47 Iraqis perished in a car-bomb attack at a Baghdad recruitment center for the new Iraqi army a day after a bombing at a police station south of Baghdad killed up to 50 people.

A cohort of Iraqi scholars had issued a fatwa that attacks against Iraqi institutions “are not Jihad, but rather aggression and conspiracy impeding a power transfer from occupation forces".