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Thousands of Iraqis protest bombing that killed 125

Associated Press
Published March 2, 2005

HILLAH, Iraq - Thousands of mostly black-clad Iraqis protested Tuesday outside a medical clinic where a suicide car bomber killed 125 people a day earlier, braving the threat of another attack as they waved clenched fists, condemned foreign fighters and chanted "No to terrorism!"

Police prevented people from parking cars in front of the clinic or the hospital, where authorities blocked hospital gates with barbed wire to stave off hundreds of victims' relatives desperate for information on loved ones.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terror group purportedly claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

Relatives and friends screamed and wailed as they gathered around lists of the dead and wounded that were posted on hospital walls.

Fears that insurgents would target Shiite mourners forced authorities to cancel an elaborate funeral procession for some of the victims.

"I am afraid there might be a suicide bomber among the demonstrating crowd," said 30-year-old Ahmed al-Amiry.

Meanwhile, insurgents released a video of French journalist Florence Aubenas, 43, who was kidnapped nearly two months ago.

"Please help me, my health is very bad," she said in English. "Please, it's urgent now."

France won the release of two hostages in December.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is responsible for torture and abuse of prisoners held by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan and should compensate the victims, a lawsuit contended Tuesday. The suit was filed on behalf of four Iraqis and four Afghans. ... The deaths Monday of two U.S. soldiers in a vehicle accident in Beiji, reported by the military Tuesday, brought the number of deaths among the U.S. military to at least 1,499. ... The Pentagon is not trying hard enough to defeat the makeshift roadside bombs that are the leading killer of U.S. troops in Iraq, said Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of American forces in the Middle East. Pentagon statistics show that over the past two months, the homemade, easy-to-hide weapons have accounted for a significantly higher share of U.S. battle deaths.

[Last modified March 2, 2005, 00:48:07]

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