Relative Iraqi calm shattered by suicide bombing

11 dead after bomber detonates explosives vest in a popular cafe north of Baghdad

Published October 29, 2010 6:53PM (EDT)

Iraqi police and hospital officials say a suicide bomber killed at least 11 people in a town north of Baghdad.

A police official said the suicide bomber detonated an explosives vest while inside a popular cafe in the town of Balad Ruz, 45 miles (70 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad. The death toll was confirmed by a hospital official.

The area where the explosion occurred is home to many members of a Shiite sect and many of the dead and wounded were Shiites.

The bombing broke what has been a period of relative calm across Iraq.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq (AP) -- A human rights group on Friday denounced a regional government's investigation into the slaying of Kurdish journalist critical of authorities in Iraq, calling for a more independent inquiry.

Freelance journalist Sardasht Othman's handcuffed and bullet-ridden body was found near the restive northern Iraqi city of Mosul and authorities concluded he had been killed by insurgents.

Many Kurds in the autonomous region where he lived, however, blamed authorities for his killing and staged dozens of huge protests demanding the perpetrators be brought to justice.

"The Kurdistan government needs to get to the bottom of this killing with an open and independent inquiry that will include looking into allegations of government involvement," said Joe Stork, deputy Mideast director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Othman's writing often was critical or mocking of the self-rule Kurdish government in Iraq's north. His death in May brought new attention to long-standing allegations of government-sanctioned abuse of media in the autonomous region.

Kurdish government officials have denied any involvement in Othman's death and in a report September concluded that he had ties to Sunni militants in nearby Mosul who ultimately killed him.

Stork, however, said the evidence was unconvincing and appeared to rely on a single, unidentified suspect who confessed to handing over a blindfolded and bound Othman to militants. Stork said the confession should not have been enough evidence to close the inquiry -- especially since government officials did not interview Othman's family or friends.

It's also not clear if the suspect who confessed will face charges in Othman's killing, Stork said.

Kurdish government media minister Hadi Mohammed declined to comment.

By Mazin Yahya

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