Iraq: At least 30 die in bus explosion
At least 30 Iraqis died d and 25 injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a bus in Baghdad. According to AFP, the bus was completely destroyed in the explosion. Some bodies were charred and the bus completely burnt, police said.
The bomber appeared to have detonated his charge just as the bus was moving out of the Al-Nahda bus station in the Iraqi capital en route for the southern Shiite town of Nassiriyah.
Captors have extended a deadline until Saturday in their threat to execute four foreign peace activists and posted a video of two of the hostages wearing orange jumpsuits and shackled with chains.
The original deadline set by the group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness was Thursday. The extension was declared in a statement that accompanied Wednesday's video, according to Al-Jazeera TV.
Norman Kember, 74, of London, Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., and the Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, were taken hostage in Baghdad two weeks ago. They were working for the Christian Peacemaker Teams, an anti-war group, and are among seven Westerners who have been abducted in Iraq since Nov. 25. The other hostages are an American, a German and a Frenchman.
The two captives on the video made statements condemning the U.S. and British presence in Iraq. "I'd like to offer my plea to the people of America, not the government of America, a plea for my release from captivity and also a plea for a release from captivity of all the people of Iraq who are also suffering the same fate," Fox said. "And that is the occupation of the American troops and the British troops which has brought me to this condition and has brought the Iraqi people to the condition they're in."
"So I would ask the American people to do what they can to free us all from this captivity," he added.
In his statement, Kember appealed to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "I ask Mr. Blair, the British government and the British people to work both for my release and for the release of the Iraqi people from oppression," he said.