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US Papers Sun: Truck Bomb Near Mosque Kills 68
200 Wounded in Blast, Remains of 2 Britons Believed to be Kidnapping Victims
By DANIEL W. SMITH 06/21/2009 02:00 AM ET
The explosion, being called the worst attack this year, dominated the news, followed by the return of the bodies of two British nationals, thought to be among five who were kidnapped two years ago.

From Baghdad
Photos of the huge crater left by the truck bomb estimated to have been filled with two tons of explosives can be seen prominently in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Over a dozen houses were reported to have been demolished and unknown numbers of bodies are still buried in the debris, in Taza, a largely Turkmen town south of Kirkuk.

Nada Bakri of the Washington Post has the most information on the blast and context/background on the region, while the New York Times’ Steven Lee Myers splits his article between the bombing and the return of the Britons’ bodies.

Both articles bring up that the attack came just hours after Prime Minister al-Maliki gave a speech at a hotel in Baghdad, urging Iraqis not to “be upset if a violation happens here or there” and pledged that the government would maintain security. “We will not retreat,” he said. Myers writes...
He vowed that the latest attacks would not force Iraq to reconsider the deadline for American withdrawals, negotiated under the security agreement that took effect this year and affirmed by President Obama when he visited Iraq briefly in April, even if attacks continued. “Even those who were talking about getting the occupiers, start to call for keeping foreign troops,” he said, without specifying whom, “but we are saying to them that those forces cannot stay.”
Of the blast itself, Bakri writes...
Soon after the blast, police and medics rushed to the scene as bystanders ferried the dead and wounded to Kirkuk's main hospital. Iraqi police and security forces cordoned off the area, as U.S. soldiers collected evidence from what remained of the truck. Relatives dug graves in the cemetery behind the mosque for their loved ones. By nightfall, Iraqi and American rescue teams had set up lights as they continued to search for people buried under the debris.

...The majority of residents in the area are Shiite Muslims from the ethnic Turkmen community. Kirkuk, which sits over vast oil reserves, is in one of Iraq's most combustible regions, contested by Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs. Many of Taza's residents were refugees in neighboring Iran and came back to their town after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. They are believed to be strong supporters of Maliki and his Dawa party.
"All I could see was a fireball flying into the air followed by a thick cloud of dust and smoke," said a local merchant. "People were bleeding and shouting for help."

Of the British bodies recovered on Saturday, nothing is said of the recovery other than that they remains were handed over the British officials by Iraqi authorities. Testing will be done, but they are believed to be members of a group of five British citizens kidnapped in 2007 from the Finance Ministry building in Baghdad.

Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, no Sunday Editions.

Comments on the US Papers roundup are welcome at dwsmithemail@yahoo.com.com.


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