Jan 17, 2007
Emergency vehicles gather at the scene of Tuesday's bombing at a Baghdad university.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Bombings and shootings in Baghdad on Tuesday killed 107 people and wounded more than 285, most of them in neighborhoods where the militia of a powerful anti-American Shiite cleric holds sway.
A suicide bomber and a car bomb killed at least 70 people and wounded 170 more at entrances to a once-prestigious university in Baghdad.
The strike at Mustansiriya University was a dual bomb attack. The suicide bomber detonated a vest at the back entrance of the school, and a parked car exploded at the main gate under a pedestrian bridge where students and employees get public transit.)
A CNN producer near the scene said police sealed off the area and there were armed members of the Mehdi Army -- the militia under the control of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- on the street.
The university, in northeastern Baghdad, is at the tip of Sadr City, a Shiite neighborhood where there is much support for al-Sadr. It is considered to be a Mehdi militia stronghold.
Meanwhile, gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a marketplace in the Mehdi Army-controlled Bunouk area of eastern Baghdad and killed 12 civilians. Seven others were wounded.
In the Sadr City neighborhood, a bomb left inside a minivan detonated, killing four people and wounding 10 others, the official said. The blast occurred 100 to 200 meters away from al-Sadr's main office.
There were two deadly incidents in central Baghdad.
A bomb exploded near a police convoy along a main road in central Baghdad, the official said. When police and others responded to that blast, a second bomb exploded nearby. At least 15 people were killed and 70 wounded by the two bombs, the official said.
About two hours before that incident, two police officers who helped defuse a car bomb in central Baghdad's Karrada section were killed when another bomb hidden nearby exploded, the official said. Two civilians were also killed in the blast, and 10 people, including three policemen, were wounded, the official said.
In Baghdad's western Bayaa neighborhood, two policemen were gunned down as they drove home after work in civilian clothing and car.
Mortar rounds hit a residential area in the Amil neighborhood in western Baghdad, wounding 10 civilians.
Police on Tuesday found 25 unidentified bodies across Baghdad.
The peak in violence came on the same day as the release of a United Nations report that said more than 34,000 civilians were "violently killed" across Iraq last year. (Full story (http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/01/16/un.iraq/index.html))
Mustansiriya University -- an ancient university with relatively modern buildings -- had been visited by Paul Bremer, once the top U.S. civilian official in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
The school, which emphasizes law and literature, was singled out as an example of the kind of institution that would need to thrive in the post-Saddam Hussein era.
However, students have come under the influence of al-Sadr militias over the past year. Sunni professors have left the school because of the influence of radical Shiites.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki strongly condemned the bombings, saying "a clutch of desperate terrorists and Saddamists has targeted an educational institution" and "we promise that the perpetrators will not go unpunished."
Al-Maliki said the bombings came "at a time when the remnants of the previous regime were dealt a severe blow that put an end to their fake dreams forever; at a time when the Iraqi people folded a dark chapter of tyranny and dictatorship by punishing the lead criminals and those behind the mass graves," a reference to the executions of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein on December 30 and of two of his aides, who were hanged on Monday. (Full story (http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/01/15/iraq.executions/index.html))
The prime minister said in a statement, "They have committed a crime that would make humanity cringe. Many children of Iraq were martyred in this cowardly act and their blood was spilled on campus and at the gates of the university."
Cabinet ministers and legislators loyal to al-Sadr were instructed to end their six-week boycott of the political process, a parliamentarian in the political bloc told The Associated Press on Tuesday, indicating that the decision was linked to a major security operation to be launched by the Iraqi government and U.S. forces.
"We might be subjected to an attack and we should try [to] solve the problem politically. We should not give a chance for a military strike against us," the legislator told AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information was not yet public.
The lawmaker said the group's return was conditional, including demands that the government set up a committee to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and a second that would set a date by which Iraqi forces were to take control of security nationwide, AP reported.