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5 blasts, 68 dead in Basra
April 21, 2004 11:41 IST
Last Updated: April 21, 2004 19:17 IST
Five car bombings near police facilities in and around the southern Iraqi city of Basra killed at least 68 Iraqis on Wednesday, report agencies.
The dead included 20 schoolchildren and at least 16 Iraqi policemen, the reports said.
About 100 people were injured in the explosions, which occurred during the rush hour, a senior military source said.
The children were mostly kindergartners going to school in a minivan which was caught in one of the five explosions, which started at 7 am. Three explosions rocked the city's three police stations, while the other two targeted the Regional Police Academy at Az Zubayr, police said.
Basra is under the control of British coalition forces, and British Foreign Minister Jack Straw blamed "insurgents who are trying to disrupt the [June 30] handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi people."
Crowds threw stones at the coalition forces as they were trying to reach the sites of the blasts, a British military source told CNN.
In other developments, renewed violence broke out in the Sunni-radical stronghold of Fallujah, where attempts to negotiate peace have met with mixed success so far. Three Marines were wounded, two of them evacuated, according to the Marine statement.