Early-Morning Mortar Attack Kills 13 in Baghdad

Mortar shells rained down on a residential neighborhood of eastern Baghdad early Sunday, killing 13 civilians and wounding 14, police said.

At least three mortars hit the Mashtal area, on the eastern side of the Tigris River, a police officer said on condition of anonymity out of security concerns.

It was unclear whether the mortars were aimed at the area, or whether the shells fell short of their intended targeted.

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Police said two of the mortar shells landed near a gas station where people were lining up for fuel at the start of the work week. Many of the victims were burned by fuel that burst into flames from the attack, the officer said.

Associated Press Television footage showed at least two cars with their windshields and windows shattered. The tail fin of a mortar shell was lodged in the ground nearby. Pools of blood soaked into the dusty ground outside crude cement block homes.

The wounded lay bandaged on gurneys at a nearby hospital. Male relatives of the victims, many in clothes stained with blood, milled around outside the neighboring morgue, where at least eleven bodies were visible on metal shelves.

Mashtal is a Shiite-dominated neighborhood in southeast Baghdad. Its main intersection, where the gas station is located, leads to other Shiite slums such as Kamaliyah, Fudailiyah, and Sadr City.

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