Two children killed after eating poisonous cake in Iraq; nine others remain ill

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Image: Tomihahndorf.

At least two children in Baghdad, Iraq have died after eating cake poisoned with thallium and at least nine others remain ill. The cake was given to people at an Iraqi sports club near the capital.

The Secretary of the Iraqi Air Force and his daughter are also among the victims. All are currently receiving treatment in Amman, Jordan as the antidote for the deadly poison is not available in Iraqi hospitals. The United Kingdom has flown in the antidotes and treatments for the victims, several of which are seriously ill.

"This is a disturbing incident," said a police spokesman.

Thallium is used in poisons to kill rats and insects and is also considered the assassin's drug or "The Poisoner's Poison" because it is tasteless. Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein used the poison against many of his enemies, and it has not been used since his rule of the country.

So far, it is not known how the cakes were poisoned, but the Air force Secretary says that the cakes were seemingly delivered to the club as a "goodwill gesture." Two officials at the club then took the cake home, where members of the families ate it. He now believes someone conspired to kill him and his family.

"The use of thallium in this way appears to show that someone in Adhamiya is reviving the techniques of the mukhabarat [Saddam's secret police]. What happens if al-Qaida gets the know-how? We are urgently trying to discover how much thallium is out there and who would know how to utilize it," added the spokesman.

An investigation is ongoing, but police say that the cakes were made at a local bakery in the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad. Police also say that the bakery has recently been a host for Sunni militants.