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Death toll exceeds 65 in surge of Iraq violence

Khaleel Mahood mourns over the body of his brother, one of seven paramilitaries killed by a suicide bomber as they waited to collect their paychecks in Kirkuk, Iraq, on Thursday.

Associated Press

Khaleel Mahood mourns over the body of his brother, one of seven paramilitaries killed by a suicide bomber as they waited to collect their paychecks in Kirkuk, Iraq, on Thursday.

BAGHDAD — A wave of violence has spread across Iraq in the last day and a half, killing more than 65 people, including three U.S. service members who were killed by a bomb Thursday in a Sunni neighborhood in southern Baghdad, Iraqi police said.

Twelve civilians were killed and 25 people were wounded, including five U.S. soldiers, when the bomb exploded in the Dora district, according to residents and officials. The Americans were part of a unit conducting a foot patrol at the market.

The spate of attacks since April seems aimed at stoking sectarian tension and undermining public confidence weeks before U.S. combat troops are due to leave Baghdad and other cities, handing security responsibility to Iraq's security forces.

Most attacks this year have been on Shiite targets, suggesting that al-Qaida and other Sunni Arab extremists are trying to rekindle sectarian fighting and undercut Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in his core Shiite constituency.

Khalil Hamza, a college student who lives near the market, said he noticed four passengers in a white car watching the Americans as they walked through the area. After the blast, he saw the car speed away with three men inside. "The shoppers were in panic," he said.

Earlier Thursday, seven Sunni paramilitaries were killed and eight wounded when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives as they stood in line waiting to be paid at a military base in the northern city of Kirkuk, police Maj. Salam Zankana said.

Also Thursday, a bomb exploded in a trash container inside a Baghdad police station, killing three policemen and wounding 19 others, an Iraqi police official said.

The attacks came a day after a car bomb exploded near restaurants in a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad, killing 41 people and wounding more than 70.

Soldier gets life

Former Pfc. Steven Dale Green, convicted of raping and killing an Iraqi teen and murdering her family, was spared the death penalty Thursday and will serve a life sentence after jurors couldn't agree unanimously on a punishment during a trial in Kentucky.

Death toll exceeds 65 in surge of Iraq violence 05/21/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 21, 2009 9:12pm]
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