A car bomb exploded near a busy market and cinema in eastern Baghdad today, killing at least 17 people and wounding 65, police said.
The explosion of the parked car also set fire to a nearby apartment and about 15 vehicles parked in the New Baghdad area of the capital, said police 1st Lieutenant Mazin Saeed.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Aboud said the wounded included children.
An enraged crowd of about 150 people turned their anger on police and journalists, beating at least two Iraqi photographers.
Police and US troops fired in the air to disperse the crowd, according to a witness.
In two other areas of Baghdad, suspected insurgents shot and killed Brigadier General Iyad Imad Mahdi as he drove to work the Ministry of Defence and Colonel Fadhil Muhammed Mobarak as he travelled to the Interior Ministry, where he led its police control room, police said.
Two car bombs also exploded in the northern city of Kirkuk, which is 180 miles north of Baghdad, police said.
One blast occurred near a Shiite mosque, killing two people and wounding two, said police Captain Sarhad Talabani.
The other car bomb exploded at a site where explosives experts were dismantling a roadside bomb that residents had found, said police Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qader. Two of the experts were wounded by the blast, which also destroyed nearby vehicles, Qader said.
Two US Marines were killed and 14 wounded when an explosive device hit their troop transport vehicle during a large American offensive being fought against suspected insurgents in western Iraq, the military said today.
During the fifth day of Operation Matador near the Syrian border, hundreds of American troops in tanks and light armoured vehicles continued to roll through desert outposts in search of followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of the al Qaida in Iraq terrorist group, the US military said.
Residents in the villages of Karabilah and Saadah reported heavy bombardments by US artillery or warplanes following fighting in the area.
Last night, a US Assault Amphibian Vehicle struck an explosive device 4.5 miles east of the town of Husaybah, killing two Marines and wounding 14, American military spokesman Captain Jeffrey Pool said.
Earlier in the offensive, which began late Saturday night, at least three Marines were reported killed and 20 wounded. It is one of the biggest US military operations I Iraq since Fallujah was taken from militants six months ago.
As many as 100 insurgents were killed in the first 48 hours of the offensive when US forces clashed with well-organised and well-equipped fighters in Obeidi, 200 miles west of Baghdad, the US military said.
The latest violence underscored how intense the fight for Iraq’s future has become in the scant three months since Iraqis voted in the country’s first democratic elections and more than two years since the US declared the end of major combat.
Insurgents averaged about 70 attacks a day at the start of May, up from 30/40 in February and March, said Lieutenant Colonel Steven Boylan, a spokesman for US forces in Iraq.
President Jalal Talabani, on his first foreign trip as head of state, appealed yesterday to South American nations to support his country’s efforts to defeat its insurgency.
“Terrorism is not limited to Iraq, it is a global curse,” Talabani told heads of state and ministers in Brazil for the first summit of South American and Arab countries.