Bombings kill at least 26, leave 60 hurt in Iraq

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – A string of bombings ripped through the Iraqi capital Sunday, killing at least 26 people and injuring more than 60. Six Shiite shrines were damaged in a series of blasts around the Baqouba area northeast of the capital.

Two British soldiers were killed and a third was injured by a roadside bomb Saturday night as they patrolled in an armored vehicle near the southern Iraqi city of Basra, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said. Their deaths brought to 111 the number of British service personnel who have died in action since 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In the deadliest attack Sunday, two suicide car bombings killed 14 Iraqis and injured at least six near the main checkpoint leading to Baghdad’s international airport, the U.S. military and Iraqi police said.

The cars exploded in a parking long near the Camp Victory coalition base, but the U.S. military said it was not an attack on the compound. “Instead, it targeted Iraqis congregated in a parking lot,” the military said.

Five roadside bombs killed 12 people in Baghdad.

One exploded in an open market for vegetables and household products in eastern Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 15. Another missed a targeted police patrol but hit a civilian bus, killing five people, including a woman and two children, and wounding a policeman.

A police patrol hit a roadside bomb in Baghdad’s northern district of Azamiyah, killing three policeman and wounding 13 other people. Two other blasts wounded two policemen and 11 bystanders.

In the city of Mosul, another suicide bomber rammed a U.S. military convoy, killing two Iraqi bystanders and wounding nine, said police Brig. Abdul-Hamod al-Jibori. U.S. forces closed off that area, there were no immediate reports of U.S. casualties.

Saturday’s shrine attacks could have significant repercussions, particularly in the Baqouba area, a mixed Sunni Arab-Shiite region that has been a flashpoint of sectarian violence. It was the second time this year that sites sacred to Iraq’s Shiite majority have been targeted.

“These are terrorist attacks meant to divide Iraq’s Shiites and Sunni Arabs, but if God is willing, they will not succeed,” said Mohammed Hussein, 45, a businessman in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

The bombs heavily damaged two of the small shrines but caused no injuries.

They began early Saturday morning with at least one bomb exploding inside the Tameem shrine, said U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson. Five other shrines were bombed throughout the day east of Baqouba.

On Feb. 22, bombs heavily damaged the Golden Dome in Samarra, which holds the tomb of Imam Jabir’s grandfather. That attack triggered a wave of reprisal attacks against Sunnis, dramatically escalating sectarian tension and pushing the country to the brink of civil war.

“Such acts anger God and hurt the feeling of all honest Iraqis,” Shiite cleric Adnan al-Rubaie said in a telephone interview from Baqouba.

“The goal is clear – to ignite a civil strife. God’s curse on everybody who tries to create sedition in this country.”

In other violence Saturday:

-Gunmen killed two Shiite workers in a bakery in Baghdad.

-Suspected insurgents wearing police uniforms kidnapped five Iraqis, four of them brothers, from two homes in Karbala, 50 miles south of Baghdad. Police also found the bodies of five Iraqis who apparently had been kidnapped and killed by death squads.

-The handcuffed bodies of four men shot in the head were found in Baghdad.


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