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Mourners bury dead in Iraqi city
Town reels from bombings

BAGHDAD - Families in a southern Iraqi city where a triple bombing claimed at least 25 lives buried their dead furtively, afraid of another attack and anxious for the dozens of wounded who remained hospitalized Thursday.

In the northern city of Mosul, meanwhile, gunmen killed a woman who ran a beauty parlor out of her home, apparently angered by what they saw as a violation of Islamic tradition. Elsewhere in Mosul, two police checkpoints came under attack - at one, gunmen opened fire and killed four policemen, and at the other, militants tried to storm the roadblock but were shot to death before they reached it, police said.

Mosul, an ethnically mixed city 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, has seen a rise in violence that many blame in part on sectarian tensions there and an influx of militants who fled the security crackdown in the Iraqi capital.

By contrast, Amarah, an oil-rich city about 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, has largely escaped the sectarian bloodshed that has plagued Iraq.

Now, some officials fear attacks like Wednesday's in Amarah could ignite fighting between powerful Shiite factions in the region, which reverted from British to Iraqi control in April.

Hospitals in Amarah were crowded with the more than 100 people wounded when the three car bombs exploded in quick succession at the city's main market.

Relatives filled the hallways and tended to victims, young and old, who were missing limbs and suffering from major head wounds.

New police checkpoints went up, the roads leading to the market where the explosion took place were blocked, and the shops there closed. Around the city, funeral tents were erected for victims, and mosques called out over their loudspeakers for donations of blood for the wounded.

Provincial authorities lowered their death toll on Thursday from a high of 41 to at least 25, blaming confusion in the immediate aftermath of the bombing for the conflicting numbers and cautioning that many of the injuries were serious.

A local police officer at the city's operations room, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said 25 were killed. Saadoun Sami Hassan, spokesman for the provincial health directorate, said 28 were killed, including one man who died Thursday afternoon.

'We expect the death toll to rise as most of the wounded have serious head injuries from flying shrapnel,' Hassan told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Baghdad.

No group claimed responsibility for the Amarah explosions, which occurred minutes apart. Bystanders rushed to help victims of the first blast, only to be caught in the explosions that followed, police and witnesses said.

Before Wednesday, Amarah and the surrounding province had accounted for less than 1 percent of the civilian casualties reported this year, according to a count by the AP.