Children massacred in Iraq bombs
Crowds had gathered for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting
Officials said at least 34 children were among 41 or more people killed when bombs were detonated near a water treatment plant as US troops passed by.
At least 130 others were injured, many among crowds gathered for the opening ceremony at the plant who had gone up to collect sweets from the soldiers.
It was the most number of children to die in one incident since the war, on a day that saw fatal attacks across Iraq.
The casualties include:
- Two Iraqi policemen and a US soldier killed in the Abu Ghraib district of Baghdad by a car bomb that also left dozens injured
- A US soldier killed by a rocket fired at a US base near Baghdad
- A senior policeman shot dead in the northern city of Mosul
- Also in the north, the Kirkuk mayor's chief bodyguard shot dead
- Four people killed in a car bombing in Talafar that also injured about 16 others
- At least four children among six or seven people killed in Falluja after US forces allegedly fired on their car
- At least three civilians killed in a US air strike on Falluja overnight.
Reports from Baghdad said hospitals struggled to cope with the influx of casualties from the bombings in the poor south-west al-Ummal district.
Pools of blood formed on the hospital floors, while at the scene of the blasts people picked through blood-stained wreckage to recover body parts, news agencies said.
Children who survived the attack described how they had been rushing towards the US convoy to collect sweets from the troops.
"The Americans called us, they told us come here, come here, asking us if we wanted sweets," 12-year-old Abdel Rahman Dawoud told the Associated Press news agency from his hospital bed where he lay naked, with shrapnel embedded all over his body.
"We went beside them, then a car exploded."
"This attack was carried out by evil people who do not want the Iraqis to celebrate and don't want [construction] projects in Iraq," National Guard Lieutenant Ahmad Saad told the Associated Press news agency at the scene.
The BBC's Caroline Hawley in Baghdad says the sequence of explosions was a highly co-ordinated attack to prevent the reconstruction of Iraq, as well as spreading fear.
'Good crack at success'
Violence continued in the restive city of Falluja, where doctors said a woman and a child were among at least three people killed when US forces launched air strikes on a house.
The military said it targeted supporters of the Islamic militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is blamed for a string of kidnappings and suicide bombings.
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that insurgents and kidnappers were having some success in making people believe that Iraq was not ready for democracy.
But in an interview with West Virginia radio station WCHS he said that there was information that Iraqis, including those in the minority Shia population, were "getting fed up with Zarqawi and his terrorist crowd killing their friends and neighbours and relatives".
"I am personally convinced that we've got a very good crack - the Iraqis have a very good crack - at being successful in this important and noble effort," he added.
Iraq's interim Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh said the government was determined to retake rebel cities like Falluja within weeks and to hold elections as planned early next year.
"We aim to regain control of these areas before the month of November," he told reporters, expanding on earlier remarks by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi that "decisive action" was being planned for Falluja.