BAGHDAD — A man who was presumed dead in this week's string of attacks in Baghdad stunned neighbors Wednesday when returned to his toppled home — and then he drew more stares as he cuddled his pet dog that was remarkably unharmed in the blast.
"Lots of neighbors thought I was dead," said Farouq Omar Muhei after his dog, Liza, was carried down to the street and began lapping at a puddle.
The ginger-colored dog was spotted chained to a roof railing and standing on a wall ledge over its collapsed home after Tuesday's huge blast near Iraq's Finance Ministry leveled shops and houses. The attack was part of coordinated bombings around Baghdad that claimed at least 127 lives.
Iraqi police and rescue officials said Muhei and his family were among the victims. But he stunned neighbors when he returned with his 14-year-old son, Omar, after being treated for cuts and other injuries. They were the only family members home at the time of the attack and all his family survived.
Only a few portions of the home remained standing — including one section of the roof where Liza was chained. The dog's water bucket also remained by its side, but was empty when Muhei's brother, Fuad, climbed over the rubble to unchain the dog and carry it down.
The dog was waiting calmly and even yawned as he approached. But it appeared to be shaking with joy as it was reunited with the 46-year-old Muhei, whose face was laced with cuts and had a bandage on his head. The thirsty Liza then began to lap water from a puddle.
"After we crawled out of the rubble of our home, I said to my son, 'The dog is dead,'" said Muhei, who sells candy and small items in the local market. "But my son said, 'No, I saw him.' I came back today to rescue my dog."
Muhei said he purchased Liza as a puppy six years year in Baghdad's main pet market. The site was hit by two suicide bombers in February 2008, killing at least 100 people.