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Many Children Among Dead in Basra Bombings - 2004-04-21


Coordinated suicide car bombings in and near the Iraq city of Basra have killed at least 68 people -- many of them school children.

The nearly simultaneous blasts hit three police stations in the southern city, which has been relatively calm for several months. Among the dead were at least 16 kindergarten children and young school girls passing on two school buses.

A short time later, another car bomb exploded in front of a police academy in the nearby town of Zubayr, killing three Iraqis.

There has been no claim of responsibility, but local officials say the blasts have the markings of al-Qaida.

Meanwhile, in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, the US military says insurgents violated a cease-fire, attacking positions held by American Marines. The military says nine insurgents were killed. Residents say six civilians were also killed.

In a separate development, the Danish foreign ministry says a Danish businessman who was kidnapped last week in Iraq has been found dead.

Also Wednesday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reaffirmed his commitment to keep Italian troops in Iraq.

Spain, the Dominican Republic and Honduras have all said they will pull their troops out of Iraq soon.

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