Car bombs kill 13 in Shiite district

0

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Two car bombs in quick succession struck a market in a mainly Shiite district in Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 13 people and wounding more than 40, police said.

Elsewhere, U.S. airstrikes killed 14 terror suspects and destroyed a safe house for foreign fighters during a raid south of Baqouba that also led to the capture of two other suspects, the military said.

The military said the raid was targeting a foreign fighter believed responsible for multiple attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces in the area.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have been battling Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias for months in the area around Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

In the capital, a suicide car bomber plowed into the busy New Baghdad commercial area shortly after noon, near a major intersection lined with stores and kiosks selling food, clothes and household appliances.

A parked car bomb exploded shortly afterward as people converged on the area to help the victims or see what had happened – a common tactic in the relentless attacks by suspected Sunni insurgents.

The 13 killed included two policemen, while four officers were among the 42 wounded, according to police reports.

The burned-out hulks of cars and vans in the area and a bag of fruit were left among pieces of metal scattered on the ground.

Farooq Haitham, the 33-year-old owner of a watch repair shop, said the area had been targeted by many bombings in the past but shopkeepers had no choice but to keep opening their doors.

“This area has witnessed many explosions, but what can we do? We want to live, our need for money forces us to come again and work,” Haitham said.

It was the latest in a series of attacks against commercial targets this week, killing some 150 people since Sunday and signaling a tough battle ahead as U.S. and Iraqi forces gear up for a planned security operation to pacify the capital.

The biggest of those attacks was on Monday when a suicide car bomber crashed into a market in the central neighborhood of Bab al-Sharqi, killing 88 people.

On Friday, a bomb struck a busy pet and livestock market, killing at least 15 people, wounding 66 and shattering the calm as Baghdad residents strolled past stalls where sellers were peddling birds, dogs, cats, sheep, goats and exotic animals such as snakes and monkeys.

At least one rocket struck Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone on Saturday, and two people suffered minor injuries, U.S. Embassy spokesman Lou Fintor said. It was the second attack against the complex in three days.

The blast sent a plume of smoke into the air and thundered across central Baghdad. shortly before sunset. about the same time as Thursday’s rocket attack on the Green Zone, the site of the U.S. and British embassies, the Iraqi government and thousands of American troops. Six people were wounded, none seriously, in that attack.

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Baghdad and met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – a clear sign the newly empowered Democratic Congress is not going to abide by the notion that foreign policy is the sole province of the White House.

Pelosi, D-Calif., has been a sharp critic of the administration’s conduct of the war and has led a drive in Congress against his decision to send 21,500 more troops.

“We stressed our belief that it is well past time for the Iraqis to take primary responsibility for the security of their nation,” Pelosi said in a statement after she and the other six members of her delegation met with the prime minister and top U.S. officials in Baghdad.

“The delegation’s view is that American forces should quickly begin to transition from a combat role to one focused on training, counterterrorism, force protection and controlling Iraq’s borders,” she said – in direct challenge to Bush’s decision to add more troops.

Many in Congress have accused the Shiite leader of foot-dragging and have challenged his capability to quell the sectarian violence tearing apart his country.

In another violence reported by police on Saturday, armed men who wore commando uniforms and drove cars with license plates commonly used by the Interior Ministry stormed a computer company and kidnapped seven people, including shoppers, in the mainly Christian neighborhood of Sina’a.

“The group pointed their guns at the victims and the passers-by, then they forced the victims into the cars and they sped away,” Younis Kadhim, 36, who owns a small restaurant nearby.

Two mortar shells also slammed into a residential district in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Hurriyah, killing two people and wounding seven others.

A taxi driver was shot to death after he was caught in the crossfire during clashes in the northern city of Mosul.

The bodies of five men also were pulled from the Tigris River in Suwayrah, 25 miles south of Baghdad, according to a morgue official. Bodies are found regularly floating in the river downstream – sometimes scores in a single day – most of them believed to have been abducted and killed by sectarian death squads.

AP-ES-01-27-07 1005EST

Advertisement