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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Blasts at Mosque in Kufa Kill 25

August 26, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

KUFA, Iraq — Explosions at the main mosque in the city of Kufa killed 25 people and wounded 60 today, hospital officials and witnesses said.

Thousands of people were crowded around the mosque at the time and ambulances raced to the scene to take scores of wounded to a hospital.

A witness said some victims also were taken to nearby Najaf, where U.S. forces are battling militiamen who follow Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr. Kufa is also a Sadr stronghold, where the rebel cleric had regularly delivered Friday sermons.

Bodies lay around the mosque compound, witnesses said.

Hussam Husseini, an aide to Sadr, said a mortar shell hit the mosque and two others exploded near the mosque gates.

It was unclear who fired the mortar rounds.

Authorities said two people were killed Wednesday in clashes with Iraqi security forces during demonstrations in Kufa.

Hospital officials and witnesses said mortar rounds caused those deaths.

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