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April 23, 2009

2 suicide attacks in Iraq kill at least 50 people

BAGHDAD — Two massive suicide attacks killed at least 50 people and possibly dozens more Thursday in Iraq.

The first explosion took place in Baghdad around 12:30 p.m. and killed at least five people, Iraqi police said.

Witnesses estimated that many more died, however. They said that the bomber blew herself up near a crowd of humanitarian workers who were delivering aid.

In the second attack, a bomber wearing an explosives vest detonated in a crowded restaurant in the southern province of Diyala, killing at least 45 people and wounding scores more, police said.

That explosion happened around 2:30 p.m., lunchtime for Iraqis, at a popular restaurant along a heavily used road east of Baqouba. Travelers and religious tourists frequent the restaurant, and most patrons there Thursday were Iranian pilgrims, according to police.

Authorities expect to find many more bodies under the rubble.

Also on Thursday, state television reported that a top extremist leader had been captured in Baghdad.

The government-run channel quoted Baghdad security spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta as saying that Iraqi security forces had arrested Abu Omar al Baghdadi, who's thought to be the head of al Qaida in Iraq. Reilly reports for the Merced (Calif.) Sun-Star. Issa and Hammoudi are McClatchy special correspondents

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