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Baghdad bombing kills more than 20

A car bomb exploded Tuesday on a street packed with shoppers in a Shiite area of Baghdad, killing 22 people and wounding 28, police said. It was the deadliest bomb attack in the Iraqi capital in a month.

Terrified children screamed and several women wailed for their dead, crying, "the terrorists, may God punish them."

At least eight other people were killed and more than 30 injured Tuesday in bombings and shootings elsewhere in Baghdad and in attacks on beauty parlors and liquor stores - symbols of Western influence - in Baqubah northeast of the capital.

The car bombing occurred shortly before 5 p.m. in a Shiite corner of Dora, a predominantly Sunni Arab district of Baghdad and one of the most dangerous parts of the city - rocked almost daily by bombings, ambushes and assassinations.

Police Maj. Gen. Mahdi al-Gharawi said the bomb was detonated by remote control and an Iraqi suspected of triggering the device had been arrested. Claims of early arrests in bombing cases often prove premature.

Another policeman, 1st Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razaq, said the blast apparently was aimed at a police patrol but missed its target, killing and maiming shoppers strolling with their families along a street lined with appliance shops and fruit and vegetable stalls.

It was the deadliest bombing in Baghdad since Jan. 19, when a suicide attacker blew himself up in a coffee shop, killing 22 people and injuring 23.

The Dora bombing was the second major attack in two days against a Shiite target in the capital. Twelve people died Monday when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt on a bus in the heavily Shiite district of Kazimiyah.

At least 969 Iraqis have been killed in war-related violence this year and at least 986 have been wounded, according to an Associated Press count.

However, large-scale attacks against civilians have declined in recent weeks amid widespread public criticism, including from Sunnis clerics and others sympathetic to the Sunni-dominated insurgency.

Some Sunni insurgent groups are believed to be holding back to give Sunni Arab politicians a chance to negotiate concessions from Shiites and Kurds during talks on a new government.

But talks among parties that won parliamentary seats in the Dec. 15 elections have bogged down because of fundamental differences among Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish politicians.

Also Tuesday, the U.S. military announced that a broad swath of central Baghdad, including some of the area around the fortified Green Zone and the airport road, was turned over to the Iraqi army's 5th Brigade, 6th Division.

The handover, which was slated to take place in December, was delayed by a dispute over who would command the unit. Col. Muhammed Wasif Taha, backed by the U.S. military but opposed by Iraq's Defense Ministry, has remained the commander.

More than 60 percent of the Iraqi capital is now under Iraqi army control.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday that the Pentagon is reviewing its practice of paying to plant stories in the Iraqi news media, withdrawing his earlier claim that it had been stopped.

Rumsfeld told reporters he was mistaken in the earlier assertion.

"I don't have knowledge as to whether it's been stopped. I do have knowledge it was put under review. I was correctly informed. And I just misstated the facts," Rumsfeld said.

Information from the Washington Post was used in this report.

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