[QODLink]
Middle East
Blast hits Iraq football match
Suicide bombers target game in northern town of Tal Afar, leaving at least 25 dead.
Last Modified: 14 May 2010 18:58 GMT

Suicide bombers have struck a football match in northern Iraq, leaving at least 25 people dead and many more wounded.

The blast targeted a game taking place in the town of Tal Afar, around 60km west of the city of Mosul.  

A local police official said a car bomb exploded at about 6pm local time (1500GMT) near a crowd of spectators.

As people fled the scene of the first blast, two more bombers activated explosive belts in the crowd, other sources said.

Local hospital officials put the number of injured at 125.

"Many people were gathered to watch the match," Hussein Nashad, who witnessed the attack, told the AFP news agency. "We heard a loud explosion and the people behind me shielded me from the shrapnel.

"I ran away, but then I heard someone shout 'Allahu-akbar' [God is greatest], and then there was another explosion," he said, speaking from hospital where he was being treated for shock.

'Dark days'

Many of the wounded were taken by ambulance to Dahuk, 95km away, because local hospitals were unable to cope with the influx of wounded spectators.

Tal Afar is a predominantly Shia Turkomen town and has been a regular target for suicide bombers in the past.

Speaking from Baghdad, Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr said that the area is a former al-Qaeda stronghold.

"There was no claim of responsibility for the Tal Afar attack but authorities are pointing the finger at al-Qaeda," she said.  

Friday's attacks follow blasts in the city last October and July that left dozens of people dead. In March 2007, 152 people were killed when truck bombs targeted markets in the town.

The violence came as the new leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq said that a campaign of attacks against the country's Shia community was under way, warning the community that "dark days soaked with blood" lay ahead.

Al-Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman was named as the group's new 'minister of war' earlier on Friday.

The bombing comes as Iraq reels from a series of co-ordinated attacks carried out in 10 cities on Monday which left 119 people dead.  

There are fears that the political deadlock following Iraq's inconclusive election two months ago is fuelling a new wave of sectarian violence.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Weaving and handicrafts are being re-taught to a younger generation of Iraqi Kurds, but not without challenges.
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Featured
As nuclear age approaches eighth decade, visitors flock to historic bomb craters at New Mexico test sites.
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
join our mailing list