BAGHDAD — A twin bombing killed 18 people Thursday in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, the deadliest attack to rock Iraq since President Barack Obama declared the full withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of the year.
Two police officials said the first explosion, at a music store shortly after 7 p.m., killed two people. The second bomb struck four minutes later as rescue workers and others rushed to the scene, the officials said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Thirty-six people were wounded in the attack, according to a medic at Imam Hussein hospital.
Many Iraqis fear violence will increase when the U.S. troops leave the country, and insurgents have for months sought to exploit continued instability and security gaps that Iraqi forces have been unable to close.
Violence has dropped dramatically across Iraq since just a few years ago, when sectarian violence brought the nation to the brink of civil war. But deadly bombings and attacks still happen nearly every day, although death tolls are usually relatively low.
American troops have all but ended street patrols in Iraq — a stark turnabout to 2006 and 2007, when widespread sectarian violence required their participation at the heart of the battle.
Iraqi security forces still rely heavily on the American military for intelligence, air support and surveillance. Also, U.S. special forces continue to assist Iraqis in targeting insurgents and other extremist groups.
There are currently 39,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The Dec. 31 deadline is part of a 2008 security agreement between Baghdad and Washington that was negotiated by the administration of then-President George W. Bush.