A huge blast took place at the center of the predominantly Shiite city of Hilla late Saturday, killing at least 40 people and injuring over 20, the Iraqi police indicated. A U.S. statement said the explosion may have been a car bomb.
It occurred at about 8:45 p.m. near the former Saddam Hussein mosque, said Polish Lt. Col. Robert Strzelecki. The city, 100 kilometers south of Baghdad, falls under the responsibility of Polish troops serving together with American forces in Iraq.
A statement issued later Saturday by the U.S. command said the blast was caused by a bomb, "possibly vehicle borne" and that "initial reports indicate 17 Iraqi civilians were killed and as many as 40 civilians were injured." Later, the US Army said 40 people were killed.
Meanwehile, activists loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said Saturday they have kidnapped three Turkish workers and threatened to behead them in 72 hours.
Al-Jazeera TV channel aired a video issued by the kidnappers, showing the three Turks identifying themselves in Turkish and telling their jobs in Iraq.
In a statement with the video, al-Zarqawi's group, Tawhid and Jihad, threatened to behead the men in 72 hours unless Turkish companies withdraw from Iraq. The three disappeared two days ago, said a Turkish consular official in Baghdad. (albawaba.com)
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