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Iraqi, Coalition Troops Treat Civilians Wounded in Attack

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2007 – Iraqi and coalition forces responded and provided medical care yesterday in Balad Ruz, Iraq, when a suicide bomber attacked a procession moving to a Shiite mosque. About 20 Iraqis died in the attack, and some 60 more were wounded.

"The terrorists attacked a place of harmony and people that believe in peace," said U.S. Army Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "The killing of innocent men, women and children is contemptible and not in keeping with the teachings of Islam, only the teachings of hatred for others," he said.

While the procession was moving to the mosque, an unidentified man exited a house and began to approach the crowd. An Iraqi policeman attempted to stop him, but the man ran and blew himself up as he reached the procession.

"The quick reactions and vigilance by Iraqi security forces prevented even more innocent people and worshippers from being casualties, and their quick response after the event to care for the wounded and take control of the situation saved many more lives," Sutherland said.

"The tactics of al Qaeda in this instance were clearly intended to incite sectarian violence. The contempt shown to the religion of Islam, the people of Balad Ruz and the culture of Iraq is indicative of terrorist tactics used by al Qaeda," Sutherland added.

The wounded were transported to the Kirkush Military Training Base, Balad Ruz hospital and Baqubah General Hospital for further treatment by coalition and Iraqi doctors. Members of the 1st Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, and Iraqi police are securing the Ali Akbar Mosque, which was attacked while Shiite Muslims were celebrating the Ashurra holiday.

Four suspected terrorists in the house the suicide bomber emerged from were detained and remain in custody pending further investigation, U.S. officials said.

"The hatred shown to the people of this province by the terrorists and those that support them will strengthen the people's resolve and encourage their support towards (Iraqi forces) and certain freedom," Sutherland said.

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

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