The attack occurred about 8:30 p.m. in a cafe in the outdoor market in Tuz Khormato, a mostly Turkmen city 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Anwar Mohammed Amin said.
Turkmen, one of Iraq's ethnic main groups, follow both the Sunni and Shiite traditions of Islam. Amin said Shiites favored the cafe because it was located near a Shiite mosque. But friction exists among the Turkmen and Kurdish populations, and the motive for the attack was unclear.
The blast was so powerful that it collapsed the ceiling of the one-story cafe, burying many of the victims, witnesses said. Hours after the blast, rescuers were still sifting through the debris looking for the dead or injured.
Authorities were using mosque loudspeakers to appeal for blood donations.
Also Sunday, gunmen in Baghdad seized a top Oil Ministry official in the second major kidnapping in as many days.
Attackers stopped Adel Kazzaz, director of the North Oil Co., shortly after he left the Oil Ministry in eastern Baghdad, ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said. They beat his bodyguards and whisked him away, Jihad said.
The government-owned North Oil Co. runs Iraq's oil fields around the northern city of Kirkuk, and Kazzaz was in the capital for a meeting with ministry officials.
The northern fields have been plagued for years by sabotage attacks on pipelines and other infrastructure. Exports were restored last month after a long delay but halted again last week and not expected to resume soon.
In southern Iraq on Sunday, a British soldier was killed and another was wounded during a raid, the British military said. It was the first British death by hostile fire in seven weeks.
Two suspects were arrested after the exchange of fire with British soldiers, who launched an operation early Sunday in Basra province to capture "those associated with terrorist activities," the British Defense Ministry said in a statement.
"During the course of this, British soldiers came under small arms fire and two soldiers sustained gunshot wounds," the statement added. "It is with great regret that we can confirm one of the soldiers has subsequently died of these injuries."
It was the first British fatality in Iraq since May 28, when two British soldiers were killed by small arms fire in Basra. Britain has about 7,200 troops in southern Iraq, and its military has reported 114 deaths in the country since the war began in 2003.
Southern Iraq, with its overwhelmingly Shiite population, is generally quieter than Baghdad and Sunni areas to the north. But security in Basra deteriorated last year after Shiite militiamen infiltrated the police force.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki visited Basra after taking office in May and promised to crack down on lawlessness there.
In Baghdad, police said six of the more than 30 people kidnapped during an Iraqi Olympic committee meeting were released by their abductors. There was no word on the fate of the other victims, including Ahmed al-Hijiya, chairman of the Olympic National Committee.
Nashat Mahir al-Salman, 75, a former member of Iraq's national committee, was left blindfolded but unharmed in the capital's Baladiyat neighborhood, Iraq's Sport Journalist Union said.
Five others, including well-known Baghdad soccer coach Ahmed Subhi and four security guards, were also dropped in the same neighborhood Sunday afternoon, the sports union said.
The mass abduction came a day after Iraq's national wrestling team withdrew from a tournament in the United Arab Emirates; the team's Sunni coach was killed Thursday in a Shiite district of Baghdad.
Elsewhere, a bomb hidden in a trash bag exploded Sunday in a commercial area of Baghdad's Karradah district, killing four people and wounding 21 others, police said. One person was killed and two were wounded when a bomb exploded near a police patrol in north Baghdad, police said.
Police in the northern city of Kirkuk also reported that two barbers were killed in a drive-by shooting. Two other people were killed in drive-by shootings -- one in Mosul and the other in Muqdadiyah northeast of the capital.
APLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16