3 Jan 2009

Many killed in suicide bomb attack in Baghdad

6:03 am on 3 January 2009

Up to 30 people have been killed in a suicide bombing in a town south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, police say.

About 110 people were also injured in the attack at a gathering of Sunni Muslim tribal leaders in Yusufiya, 20km from Baghdad.

Police said the bomber had entered the home of a sheikh as a Sunni council meeting was being held.

The area was once an al-Qaeda stronghold but local Sunnis turned against the group from 2007.

A number of the tribal leaders, or sheikhs, are reported to be among the casualties.

The council meeting was part of an initiative by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shia, to reach out to Sunnis to aid national reconciliation.

It is the first suicide attack in Iraq this year - although some fear that the run-up to provincial elections later in January could see more settling of scores and attempts to destabilise Iraq, the BBC reports.