Baghdad suicide bomber kills at least 43 people

A suicide bomber has killed
at least 43 people and injured 40 more southwest of Baghdad, Iraqi police said
Sunday.

The attack targeted
government-backed Sunni militia members lining up to be paid in the
neighbourhood of Radwaniya.

The Sunni militia fighters,
known as the Sahwa or Awakening Councils, were once allied with al-Qaida, but
turned against the militant group in 2006.

Among the dead were at least
six soldiers and three accountants.

At least 13 soldiers were
also wounded, along with four accountants.

“There were more than 85
people lined up in three lines at the main gate of the military base to receive
salaries when a person approached us,” a survivor, 20-year-old Tayseer Mehsen,
said at Mahmudiya hospital. “When one of the soldiers tried to stop him, he
blew himself up.”

The BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse
in Baghdad says the Sahwa are credited with helping to reduce the overall
levels of violence in Iraq since they joined the US military and government
forces in the fight against al-Qaida.

He says that the Sahwa have
been increasingly targeted by militants in recent months and have complained
that their state-support is evaporating.

The Sons of Iraq, as members
of the militia are also known, have recently reported cases of harassment from
government troops as a political vacuum continues following inconclusive
elections in March.

Sunni insurgents have sought
to exploit the deadlock created by a failure of Sunni, Shia and Kurdish
factions to agree on a new coalition government.

The two lists that won most
seats are still bickering over who should be the next prime minister.

Both former prime minister
Iyad Allawi and incumbent Nouri Maliki insist that they are best placed to lead
the war-torn country.

There are fears that the political
uncertainty could hinder the planned withdrawal of all US combat troops from
Iraq by the end of August, in preparation for a full military departure by
2012.

In a second attack, a
suicide bomber killed at least three people and wounded six at a meeting of
Sunni militia leaders in western Iraq, police said.

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