Tanker blast kills at least 10 in Iraq

17 December 2003
An explosion in Baghdad on 17 December killed at least 10 Iraqis and injured 15 others in a western district of the city. The blast occurred at a busy intersection in the Bayyaa area of the capital, and caused numerous vehicles - including a petrol tanker - to explode. 'The number of dead is high because the crossroads is congested and leads to three different residential areas,' local policeman Hamid Fahed told AFP. 'This act targeted civilians - This was an act of terrorism because there was no [military] target here.'

Reports from Iraq indicate that there is some confusion about the cause of the blast. A coalition soldier at the scene said they were considering two possible explanations. 'One, that the truck was loaded with explosives and it went up,' he said. 'Two, that a smaller vehicle that crashed into [the tanker] accidentally blew up the petrol inside.' Iraq's deputy interior minister, Ahmed Kadhim Ibrahim, said that the tanker had been loaded with explosives and had been speeding towards a local police station when it accidentally collided with a minibus. Local witnesses said that the collision appeared to be an ordinary, but tragic road crash.

The reports of the tanker explosion came hours after US military officials in Iraq said that they had detained 73 suspected insurgents in the town of Samarra. Those arrested are believed to be members of an operational terrorist cell, and include the group's leader, a military spokesman said.

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