Baghdad morgue receive 249 bodies from violence

The Baghdad central morgue has received the bodies of 249 people killed in a surge of violence triggered by the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine and reprisal attacks on Sunni mosques last week, an official said Tuesday.

More than 60 people gathered outside the building Tuesday with empty coffins stuffed with plastic to collect the bodies of relatives killed in the sectarian fury unleashed by Wednesday's bombing.

Women beat their chests in a traditional sign of grief and wailed for their dead relatives. Others clustered around two computers, looking through pictures to find missing relatives.

The Interior Ministry, which collects information from police across the country, could only confirm 216 people killed since the Askariya shrine was destroyed in Samarra, said Maj. Falah al-Mohamdawi, a ministry official. But its information is based on death certificates which can take days to process.

The morgue received 249 bodies from the Baghdad area alone between Wednesday and Sunday, said an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Most of the victims had been shot, but some were strangled, he said. The bodies brought in since Monday died of natural causes, he said, reports the AP.

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