Market bombs kill 100 in 2 Iraqi cities

From: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/01/22/Iraq.main/index.html

Jan 22, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Bombs in Iraqi marketplaces killed dozens of people Monday in Baghdad and in Khalis, near the northeastern city of Baquba.

At least 88 people were killed and 160 wounded in central Baghdad in a pair of nearly simultaneous car bombings, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

Hours later, a bomb hidden in a vendor's cart exploded in a market in Khalis, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad -- killing 12 and wounding 40, Iraqi officials said.

The midday bombings in Baghdad's al-Sharqi district targeted civilians in a secondhand market, the site of several earlier attacks.

"Body parts everywhere, many bodies charred; it was horrible," the Interior Ministry official said.

Both car bombs were parked near the market and were detonated by remote control shortly after a driver stepped out of one of the vehicles, leaving its engine running, the official said, citing witnesses.

That car had a large amount of explosives and metal objects, including nails and other shrapnel, to inflict maximum casualties, the official said.

Other attacks Monday in Baghdad left at least three dead, an Interior Ministry official said.

A prominent Sunni sheik, Riyadh Hussein al-Ogaidat, was fatally gunned down in front of his home.

Earlier Monday, mortar rounds fell on an elementary school in southern Baghdad's Abu Dhseir section, killing one woman and wounding eight children.

Gunmen assassinated a police officer, also a lecturer at the police academy, as he headed home in eastern Baghdad, an official said.

Insurgents demolished part of a Sunni mosque in southern Baghdad's Dora neighborhood with explosives. No one was killed or wounded in that attack.

Also, police found 29 unidentified bodies Monday scattered across the Iraqi capital, with many showing signs of torture, the official said.

Baquba mayor kidnapped

Twenty gunmen broke into the office of Baquba Mayor Khaled al-Sinjari on Monday and kidnapped the official before leveling his office with explosives, an Iraqi security official said.

The attack came a day after another raid on the mayor's office in which weapons were stolen, guards were locked in a room and one of the mayor's cars swiped, the official said.

The mayor's office is in a residential area controlled by armed groups with no regular security forces, the official said.

Earlier Monday, U.S. Col. David W. Sutherland touted the improved security situation in Baquba, capital of Diyala province.

Responding to a journalist's query about residents' complaints of being under siege, Sutherland said people and government officials in Baquba have told him that the situation has improved.

"I drove through Baquba yesterday. There were people out on the street," Sutherland said. "Again one of our indicators of what's happening in Baquba is the markets are open."

He said his command sergeant major just returned from "a personal engagement" with the Baquba mayor.

Sutherland admitted that Diyala "is in a cycle of violence, however, right now that cycle of violence is in a downturn."

Deadly weekend for U.S. troops

A roadside bomb detonated near a U.S. military vehicle Monday, killing one soldier and wounding four in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh, according to the U.S. military.

Also Monday, the U.S. military conducted massive interrogations at a secure compound in Karbala after a weekend attack by armed militants posing as American military officials, a Karbala police spokesman said. The attack killed five U.S. soldiers.

Saturday's raid happened as the U.S. military convened a meeting to discuss security for Ashura, the upcoming Shiite pilgrimage to the central Iraqi town of Karbala.

The assailants targeted only U.S. soldiers, said spokesman Abdul Rahman al-Mishawi, adding that not a single Iraqi soldier or policeman was killed.

The Karbala deaths helped make Saturday one of the deadliest days for the U.S. military since the war began almost four years ago, with 25 troops killed.

Among those deaths were 12 U.S. soldiers -- eight passengers and four crew members -- in the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter northeast of Baghdad. A Diyala province security official said the helicopter went down in Tarkhya, south of Baquba.

U.S. military officials said Monday that debris recovered at the scene in Diyala province indicated a shoulder-fired missile may have hit the helicopter but that the incident is still under investigation.

Later Monday afternoon an Islamist group, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for attacking the chopper and also for destroying two Humvees in Diyala province, according to a Web site that has carried accurate claims in the past.

It was not possible for CNN to independently verify the claims or confirm the Humvee incidents happened.

In addition to the chopper crash, troops were killed Saturday by roadside bombs, wounds sustained in combat and a grenade attack, the military said.

On Sunday, two Marines were killed in separate battles in western Iraq, bringing the weekend's toll to 27. Both were members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Pendleton, California.

The highest single-day U.S. military death toll was recorded on January 26, 2005, when 37 American troops died -- 31 from a Marine helicopter crash that was ruled accidental and six combat deaths.

The number of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq war stands at 3,049, including 53 in January. Seven civilian contractors of the Defense Department also have been killed in the war.

Other developments

  • Iraq's prime minister has dropped his protection of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia after being convinced by U.S. intelligence that the group was infiltrated by death squads, two Iraqi government officials told The Associated Press on Sunday. (Full story (http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/01/22/maliki.sadr.ap/index.html))
  • Ending a two-month boycott, the powerful political movement headed by al-Sadr will return to Iraq's parliament, the parliamentary speaker said Sunday. Politicians backing al-Sadr withdrew participation in Iraqi politics in a protest over Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's November meeting with President Bush in Jordan.
  • The U.S. military said Sunday that about 3,200 U.S. soldiers are being deployed to Baghdad to assist Iraqi security forces in the coming weeks -- marking the first part of Bush's plan to add 21,500 troops to the war effort. The 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, which had been on standby in Kuwait, has been added to Multi-National Corps-Iraq and will be fully operational "on or about" February 1, the military said.