BAGHDAD (AP) - Bombers killed
42 people yesterday at a Baghdad res-
taurant favored by police and an army
recruiting center to the north, while
Iraqi troops along the Iranian border
found 27 decomposing bodies, unidenti-
fied victims of the grisly violence plagu-
ing the country.
In the deadliest bombing in Baghdad
since Sept. 19, a suicide bomber blew
himself up in a restaurant about 9:45
a.m., when officers usually stop in for
breakfast. Police Maj. Falah al-Moham-
medawi said 35 officers and civilians
died and 25 were wounded.
A-Qaida in Iraq claimed in an Inter-
net posting that it staged the attack in
retaliation for U.S. and Iraqi opera-
tions near the Syrian border. Earlier, it
claimed responsibility for Wednesday
night's deadly hotel bombings in neigh-
boring Jordan, linking those blasts to
the conflict in Iraq.
Samiya Mohammed, who lives near
the restaurant, said she rushed out when
she heard the explosion.
"There was bodies, mostly civilians,
and blood everywhere inside the place.
This is a criminal act that only targeted
and hurt innocent people having their
breakfast," she said.
There were no Americans in the
area, she said. "I do not understand why
most of the time it is the Iraqis who are
killed," she added.
The blast was the most deadly since
a car bomb ripped through a market in
a poor Shiite Muslim neighborhood on
the eastern outskirts of Baghdad, kill-
ing at least 30 people and wounding 38
on Sept. 19.
Police first reported two bombers
struck the restaurant because some
witnesses heard two blasts. Later, al-
Mohammedawi said the suicide attack-
er carried a bomb in a satchel and also
wore an explosives belt and the two
Thursday's other big attack came in
Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit,
80 miles north of the capital, where a car
bomb blew up in the middle of a group
of men outside an Iraqi army recruiting
center. Seven were killed and 13 wound-
ed, police Capt. Hakim al-Azawi said.
The men were former officers during.
Saddam's regime, Azawi said.
Last week, Iraq's defense minister
invited officers of Saddam's army up to
the rank of major to enlist in the new
Iraqi army. It was an overture to disaf-
fected Sunni Arab ex-soldiers, many of
whom joined the insurgency after the
Americans abolished the Iraqi armed
forces in 2003.
The bombings came just before Brit-
ish Foreign Secretary Straw arrived in
Baghdad for a meeting with Prime Min-
ister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to discuss the
Dec. 15 parliamentary elections.
"This is a very exciting time to visit
Iraq: Once more, the country's people will
have the chance to decide who will govern
them, and I am pleased to see that all of
the different communities in the country
are taking part," Straw said.
In another sign of the country's sectar-
ian and criminal violence, Iraqi soldiers
found the decomposing bodies of 27 peo-
ple near Jassan, a town close to the border
with Iran, Col. Ali Mahmoud said.
They were not immediately identi-
fied, but the area is a known dump-
ing ground for such groups of bodies,
which turn up with regularity in Iraq.
Officials suspect death squads from
the Shiite majority, the Sunni minor-
ity and criminal gangs are responsible
for the killings.
At least 653 bodies have been found
since Iraq's interim government was
formed April 28, according to an
Associated Press count.
The identities of many are never
determined, but at least 116 are known
to be Sunni Arabs, 43 Shiites and one
Kurd. Some are likely victims of
crimes, including kidnappings, which
are rampant in some cities and as dan-
gerous to Iraqis as political violence.
In western Iraq, U.S. officials said
Operation Steel Curtain was mov-
ing out of the town of Husaybah to
the village of Karabilah, a militant
stronghold on the Syrian border. The
6-day-old operation aims to secure the
area that U.S. commanders believe is
used to smuggle foreign fighters and
weapons into Iraq.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Riots and violence in France slows
Violence in France fell sharply overnight, the police chief said yesterday, one
day after the government toughened its stance by imposing emergency measures
and ordering deportations of foreigners involved in riots that have raged for two
In the past two nights, there was a notable decline in the number of car burn-
ings - a barometer of the intensity of the country's worst civil unrest in nearly
National Police Chief Michel Gaudin said there was a "very sharp drop" in
violence overnight. While youths have been battling riot police with rocks and
firebombs, "there were practically no clashes with police," he said.
The government ordered a 12-day state of emergency that went into effect
Wednesday in an effort to quell the rioting. Also, Interior Minister Nicolas Sar-
kozy said local authorities had been told to deport foreigners convicted so far
for their roles.
A French anti-racism group, SOS-Racisme, called the measure illegal. The
group's president said he had asked France's highest administrative body, the
Council of State, to intervene.
GOP leaders scuttle vote on budget-cut bill
House Republican leaders scuttled a vote yesterday on a $51 billion bud-
get-cut package in the face of a revolt by lawmakers over scaling back
Medicaid, food stamp and student loan programs.
The development was a major setback for the GOP on Capitol Hill and
for President Bush, who has made cuts to benefit programs a central pillar
in his budget plan.
The decision by GOP leaders came despite a big concession to moder-
ates Wednesday, when the leaders dropped provisions to open the Arctic
National Refuge to oil and gas exploration, as well as a plan allowing states
to lift a moratorium on oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
"We weren't quite ready to go to the floor," Majority Leader Roy Blunt
(R-Mo.) said five hours after recessing the House for closed-door meetings
aimed at picking up votes from wavering Republicans.
Blunt said some members still had concerns, indicating GOP leaders
were willing to make additional concessions in an attempt to round up
U.S. ready to accept Iran nuclear activities
The United States and Europe have agreed on a compromise plan to accept expanded
nuclear activities by Iran, but only if the enrichment process - a possible pathway to
nuclear arms - is moved to Russia, senior officials and diplomats said yesterday.
If accepted by Iran, the proposal could end a tug-of-war over whether to refer the
Islamic republic to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
The officials and diplomats, who demanded anonymity in exchange for discussing the
strategy, said the plan would allow Iran to continue converting raw uranium into the gas
that is spun by centrifuges into enriched uranium.
But actual enrichment would take place in Russia, they told The Associated Press.
Chna reports new bird flu outbreaks, raising fears
Authorities in China said yesterday they have quarantined 116 people in northeastern
Liaoning province after two new outbreaks of bird flu there. The province has now suf-
fered three outbreaks in less than three weeks despite a massive campaign to contain the
Kuwait reported the first two cases of bird flu i the Gulf region but said it would not do
the tests to determine whether they were caused by the deadly and virulent H5N1 strain.
China did not make clear the extent to which the 116 people in Liaoning were being
isolated. The country has imposed quarantines in other bird-flu afflicted areas but in at
least one case residents were restricted only from leaving their village.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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