MOSUL, Iraq -- A suicide attacker set off a bomb that tore through a funeral tent jammed with Shi'ite mourners yesterday, killing 47 people and wounding more than 100.
The explosion, in a working-class neighborhood of this northern city, tore through a large funeral tent pitched next to a smaller one on a grassy patch in the courtyard of the al-Shahidain al-Sadir mosque. Survivors scrambled to get the wounded to a hospital, lugging them to ambulances and cars in blankets or prayer rugs as a strong smell of gunpowder filled the yard.
''As we were inside the mosque, we saw a ball of fire and heard a huge explosion," said Tahir Abdullah Sultan, 45. ''After that, blood and pieces of flesh were scattered around the place."
At first, some mourners thought it was an airstrike -- but once they smelled the gunpowder, they said they knew it was a suicide bombing.
Blood was spattered across the grass, car windows were shattered, and survivors wailed as corpses were loaded onto the backs of pickup trucks. Others folded newspapers over the faces of the dead. The body parts that were strewn around the area were believed to be of the bomber.
Shi'ite mosques and funerals have become a frequent target of Sunni-led insurgents. Last month, suicide bombers attacked a number of them during the Shi'ite commemoration of Ashoura, killing nearly 100 people.
Mosul has been a hotbed of insurgent violence, and the scene of many bombings, drive-by shootings, and assassinations targeting the country's security services, majority Shi'ites, and people thought to be working with US-led forces.
A doctor at Mosul's hospital, Saher Maher, said 47 people were killed and that US troops took 10 ''very critical cases" to a medical facility on their base in the city. American troops also were seen bringing medical supplies to the hospital. The US military said more than 100 were injured.
Earlier yesterday, police in Mosul uncovered a mass grave containing 31 bodies, adding to a grisly toll of about 40 decapitated and executed people found at two locations in Iraq on Wednesday, a senior Iraqi police official told The
The bodies were discovered in a common grave at the Wadi Egab Cemetery, according to an Iraqi police general who commands a special antiterrorism unit called al-Theeb, which means ''the wolf." He said police were led to the grave by a former police lieutenant, Shoqayer Fareed Sheet, who confessed on Iraqi television on Wednesday night to killing 113 people.
The police commander, who because of the sensitivity of his job is publicly identified only as General Abu Waleed, said the bodies were believed to be those of civilians, police officers, and army soldiers who had been tortured and killed by Sheet, a Sunni Muslim, to obtain information that was turned over to Sunni insurgent groups.
In other violence, gunmen killed two district police chiefs and two other Iraqis in attacks in Baghdad yesterday, and an accountant working for a Kurdish television station was killed in northern Iraq.