The extreme nature of this attack seems to warrant a break with the practice of posting only materials that offer broader context than that offered by television newscasts. -- Any comment other than to express our sorrow seems inappropriate in the face of 125 dead and 150 wounded in this bombing and others killed and injured elsewhere....

By Jane Arraf, Ingrid Formanek, Kianne Sadeq, and Zoran Stevanovic

** Deadliest single insurgent attack of war **

February 28, 2005

BAGHDAD -- In the deadliest single insurgent attack of the Iraq war, a suicide car bombing killed 125 people Monday in Hilla where police recruits were waiting to get physicals, Iraqi government and health officials said.

The attack wounded more than 150 others when the car bomb detonated outside a government office, the officials said.

"We've called on people to donate blood and have opened a center for that," Dr. Mahmoud Abdul Ridah, a local health official, told Reuters. "We've called on doctors from Karbala, Diwaniyah and Najaf to come and help and they have started to arrive."

Hilla is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Baghdad. The government office is near a busy market, and police were unsure how many recruits were among the casualties.

Reuters video showed a pile of bloody bodies outside the building. What were once market stalls had been transformed into smoky wreckage and people helped to load mangled corpses on to wooden carts that were usually used to move fruit and vegetables.

Other bodies seen in the video were piled into the back of pickup trucks.

"We finished now transporting the bodies from the site," Ridah told Reuters.

A second car bomb exploded Monday about 15 miles to the north of Hilla in Musayyib, Iraq's Interior Ministry said. The ministry said it had reports of people wounded in the attack, but no other details.

Police recruits and Iraqi security forces are frequently targeted by insurgents. A similar suicide attack on September 4, 2004, killed 47 recruits.

Before Monday, the deadliest single attacks killed at least 84 people August 29, 2003, at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf, and at least 85 people March 2, 2004, in Karbala.


The fighting broke out a day after eight people were killed in a bomb attack on a municipal building near Mosul, multinational forces officials said.

Sunday's blast, an attack by suspected insurgents, happened in Hamam al-Alil, a town about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Mosul. The building housed different government departments.

At least two people were injured in the attack and were taken to a hospital, military officials said.

Also Sunday, Iraqi government officials said Saddam Hussein's half-brother and his former personal adviser had been captured.

Sab'awi Ibrahim al-Hasan al-Tikriti was No. 36 on the U.S. military's 55 most-wanted Iraqis list, and one of only 12 people on the list who remained free.

Iraqi officials said neighboring Syria handed over al-Hasan as a gesture of goodwill, The Associated Press reported.

There is evidence that al-Hasan was financing insurgents in the post-Saddam era, an Iraqi intelligence official said.


A U.S. soldier with Task Force Baghdad died Sunday night after being shot at a traffic checkpoint in southern Baghdad, a U.S. military statement said. The incident is under investigation. U.S. military officials announced on Sunday the deaths of two other American soldiers and a Marine, all three killed on Saturday. The soldiers died in an insurgent attack in eastern Baghdad and the Marine was killed in Babil province. The deaths bring the number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war to 1,495, including 1,142 killed in hostile action, according to the U.S. military.

Iraqi soldiers Monday battled Sudanese militants in central Baghdad after an attack on an army convoy in the capital's al-Battaween district, an Iraqi police official said. At least two of the militants were killed. At least 22 of the militants were detained in an ensuing raid. The district is known for having a large Sudanese population.

Eleven people, including four women, a police officer and two government workers, have been kidnapped within the past several days on a road between two towns south of Baghdad, Iraqi police said Sunday. The captives apparently were abducted on a road between Latifiya and Mahmoudiya, as they were returning to Karbala, according to a source from Baghdad police.

An Iraqi oil pipeline was sabotaged in Dibis, about 31 miles (50 kilometers) north of Kirkuk, authorities said Sunday. A Kirkuk police source said a bomb was planted and damaged the pipeline, which is used for pumping crude oil from the Dibis oil field to the Kirkuk refinery.