More than 70 Iraqis killed in oil pipeline blast; 10 US troops dead

Published August 29th, 2006 - 07:08 GMT

At least 74 people died when an old fuel pipeline caught fire near the southern Iraqi city of Diwaniyah. "We have six bodies in two city hospitals and more than 30 charred bodies are still at the site of the explosion," said Hamid Taathi, head of Diwaniyah's health department.


A defense ministry official said the pipeline had not been used since 2003 but still contained some fuel and that local residents often cut holes in it to siphon off petrol, which currently is in short supply.


Earlier, Diwaniyah local councillor Ghanim Dahash blamed saboteurs for the blast on the pipeline in Afak district.


On Monday, fighting in Diwaniyah killed at least 25 Iraqi soldiers, 10 civilians and five Shiite militiamen while 75 people were wounded. The fighting was some of the worst in recent months between the Iraqi army and Shiite militiamen loyal to the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. However, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office on Tuesday announced that 50 gunmen loyal to al-Sadr had been killed in the clashes. This death toll was significantly higher to what initially reported to on Monday.  


In the town of Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, three mortars, two rocket-propelled grenades and a bomb exploded at an al-Sadr office almost simultaneously, killing two guards and destroying the building, the Diyala Province police in the city said. 


In Baghdad, Iraqi police found the bullet-riddled bodies of 24 people with their hands and legs bound, police 1st Lt. Mutaz Salahiddin said. He said they were found near a school in the Shiite-dominated southern neighborhood of Maalif and appeared to have been tortured.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said Tuesday that nine U.S. soldiers were killed on Sunday, eight of them in and around Baghdad and one in fighting in Anbar province west of Baghdad. A 10th soldier died Monday of wounds sustained in a vehicle accident in Balad north of Baghdad.


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