BAGHDAD – A suicide bomber who walked into a Baghdad restaurant popular with police outside the Green Zone government compound killed 23 people on Sunday, the bloodiest attack in the capital for six weeks.
The al Qaeda group in Iraq led by Jordanian Abu Musab al- Zarqawi claimed the bombing as U.S. and Iraqi troops scoured towns close to the Syrian border that they believe serve as staging posts for foreign fighters coming into the country.
The bomb went off around lunchtime just a few hundred meters (yards) from where Iraq’s parliament was meeting inside the fortified Green Zone, once Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace compound. Zarqawi and his Iraqi Sunni Arab allies have declared war on the new Shi’ite-led, U.S.-backed government.
Not for more than a month, since U.S. and Iraqi forces launched Operation Lightning, a crackdown on insurgent bomb factories and other rebel activity in the city, has an attack caused so much bloodshed in central Baghdad.
The one-room, street-front restaurant was devastated, with scarcely a stick of blood-spattered furniture intact. Human remains lay on the sidewalk. Police said seven of the 23 dead were police. A further 36 people were wounded…