BAGHDAD - Two bombs exploded back to back near a Shiite shrine in central Baghdad where worshipers had gathered in prayer Saturday, killing four people and injuring 24, police and hospital officials said.
The first bomb went off next to the tomb of a revered ninth century religious figure, Sheik Othman al-Omari. Then a car bomb exploded in a nearby parking lot as crowds were gathering. The blasts damaged the shrine and blew out the windows of neighboring buildings.
Attacks blamed on al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni extremists are again targeting Shiite civilians. Violence between Shiites and Sunnis drove the country to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007, though it has ebbed since.
Iraqi and U.S. officials say the attacks are aimed at rekindling that violence, but so far Shiite groups have reacted with restraint. The police and hospital officials who gave details of the shrine attack and the casualty toll spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not permitted to speak to journalists.
In what appeared to be another attempted sectarian attack, a bomb was found hidden inside a Koran at the Shiite Kazimiyah shrine in northern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said. The book contained about a pound of explosives to be triggered with a cell phone and was brought in by a woman, said Maj. Gen. Jihad al-Jabiri, speaking on state television. He said the bomb failed to detonate.
Northeast of the capital, a roadside bomb killed four people in Diyala province, a provincial police officer said. In other attacks Saturday, a bomb attached to a civilian car exploded in the northwest of the capital, killing the driver and wounding two passengers, police said.
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As of Saturday, 4,343 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. Identifications as reported by the U.S. military and not previously published:
- Army Pfc. Thomas F. Lyons, 20, Fernley, Nev.; explosion Tuesday, Baji.
- Army Pfc. Zachary T. Myers, 21, Delaware, Ohio; explosion Tuesday, Baji
- Army Staff Sgt. Shannon M. Smith, 31, Marion, Ohio; explosion Tuesday, Baji.