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27 killed in two bombings in Iraq

A suicide bomber targets a Kurdish funeral in Diyala, killing 18. In the west Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib, a bomb hidden in garbage kills nine.

March 24, 2009|Saif Hameed and Ned Parker

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber killed at least 18 people in an attack on a Kurdish farmer's funeral northeast of Baghdad, in an area rife with friction between Kurds and Arabs.

The bombing in Jalawla in Diyala province came on a day of violence that also saw the death of nine people in a western suburb of Baghdad, in an attack targeting one of the U.S.-allied Sunni Muslim paramilitary groups that have battled the Al Qaeda in Iraq militant group since 2007.

At least 35 people were wounded in the Jalawla explosion, police said.

Local Kurdish official Qadir Khodad, whose brother's funeral was attacked, said he had been greeting people when the assailant detonated explosives inside the mourners tent. The bombing occurred on the third and final day of mourning.

Many of the wounded were rushed to a hospital in the Kurdish semiautonomous region in northern Iraq, which borders Diyala province.

The attack was a reminder of the tensions between Arabs and Kurds that have persisted since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein in 2003.

"My deceased brother returned here after 2003," Khodad said. "He was a farmer. He came back to Jalawla after being displaced with other Kurds . . . in Saddam Hussein's era."

Last August, Kurdish fighters, known as peshmerga, withdrew from Jalawla after the Iraqi army moved to evict them.

A similar confrontation ended in a draw in the neighboring district of Khanaqin, which the Kurds still control despite the army's desire to expel them.

Meanwhile, in the western Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib, nine people were killed and 23 wounded when a bomb hidden in a pile of garbage exploded. The blast targeted the leader of the Sons of Iraq, the local Sunni paramilitary group aligned with American forces, police said.

Two weeks ago, a suicide bomber killed 33 people in Abu Ghraib in an attack on a delegation of security officials and Sunni and Shiite Muslim tribesmen touring a market.

Police also announced the arrest of 150 people in the nearby district of Amiriyat Fallouja, to the west of Abu Ghraib, where security forces said they had picked up suspects in a recent assassination attempt against the son of a prominent Sunni tribal leader.

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ned.parker@latimes.com

Times staff writer Usama Redha in Baghdad and special correspondent Asso Ahmed in Sulaymaniya contributed to this report.

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