There was apparently another chemical attack in Iraq near Baghdad. The car bomb killed at least 30 and wounded more than 50. Many victims are reported to have symptoms of chlorine poisoning though police denies it.
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The car bomb attack occurred Tuesday evening in the village of Abu Saydah in the volatile Diyala province, police said.
Residents of the farming village of 10,000 people said the attack appeared to be revenge for a confrontation a month ago in which locals killed 12 al-Qaida fighters. They said residents had fought back against Sunni militants trying to storm the village and 10 days later received threats to leave the village or face death.
Jassim Mohammed, a 35-year-old car dealer whose house was near the blast site, said the car bomb was parked between two tea shops and a small market.
"I rushed to the scene and helped carry the wounded to civilian cars," he said, describing bloodstained pavement and body parts strewn across the site.
Hospital officials and victims said it appeared chlorine gas was used in the attack as many of the wounded were having difficulty breathing and their sight was affected. But provincial police officials denied the toxic gas was involved.
A hospital official said the facility had received three bodies and 11 wounded, who all showed symptoms of chlorine poisoning. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
One man had a white cloth across his eyes as he lay in his hospital bed; others were bandaged from head to toe.
Chlorine gas attacks the eyes and lungs within seconds, causing difficulty in breathing and skin irritation in low-level exposure. Inhaled at extremely high levels, it dissolves in the lungs to form hydrochloric acid. The acid burns lung tissue, essentially drowning a person as liquid fills the lungs.
The chemical has been used a number of times recently in insurgent attacks.
Last month, a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq suicide bomber smashed a truck loaded with TNT and toxic chlorine gas into a police checkpoint in Ramadi, killing at least 27 people. It was the ninth such attack since the group's first known use of a chemical weapon in January.
Abu Saydah is a mainly Shiite village about 25 miles northeast of the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Baqouba, the capital of the province that has seen a recent spike in violence largely blamed on militants who fled Baghdad ahead of a U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown.
Kadim Hussein, a 45-year-old farmer who was taken to the Imam Ali hospital in Sadr City, a Shiite area in Baghdad, claimed the hospitals in Baqouba would only accept Sunnis.
"My eyes became puffy due the chlorine gas that was packed in the car bomb," he said, adding he also had difficulty breathing. "Also, I had many pieces of shrapnel in my chest and right shoulder."
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(The photo is not related to the attack on Abu Saydah)
There have been several reports already about militants in Gaza trying to mount chemical warheads on their missiles. However immature may be the current chemical technology at the disposal of Islamic radicals, it will eventually come of age and spread around the region. Chemical attacks on Israel's towns like Sderot from Gaza and elsewhere may be not far away and Israel should be better prepared for this development.
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