Death toll reaches 51 day after Iraq funeral blast
Iraqi security forces cracked down on traffic in Baghdad neighborhoods on Friday, stopping even vehicles carrying bodies of some of the 51 people killed by a car bomb the day before at a Shiite Muslim funeral.
Shrapnel was still scattered across the streets in northwestern Baghdad where a near-riot broke out after the afternoon explosion on Thursday when infuriated Iraqis pelted security forces with sticks and stones for failing to stop the deadly strike.
Police and officials at three Baghdad hospitals said 123 people also were wounded by the booby-trapped car that was parked near a funeral tent. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to release the information.
Fakhir Mohammed, 55, a retired army officer, said the area looked like "a battlefield" on Friday morning as funeral processions stepped off for those killed on Thursday. He said three of his cousins and four friends died in the attack.
"All the families in the area have lost either relatives or friends or neighbours," Mohammed said. "The area is still sealed off. There is a vehicle ban. People have to get permission from the security forces in order to let vehicles carrying caskets of the dead people enter the area for the funeral processions."
Government officials blamed the bombing on insurgents seeking to undermine Iraq's safety before a March meeting of Arab leaders in Baghdad. It was the latest major attack in over a week of violence in Iraq that has left more than 200 dead — mostly Shiites and security forces.
Shortly after the blast Thursday, seething young men hurled debris at police and soldiers, and an estimated 200 demonstrators protested the security lapses. Officials said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered an investigation of an army commander tasked with overseeing the area's security.
Mohammed said the angry mob seemed to calm after the army commander was detained for questioning.
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