A car bomb killed three people and wounded five others in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighbourhood early today.
The US military announced the deaths of two soldiers, raising the number of US troops killed in Iraq fighting this month to 103.
The Sadr city bomb struck at about 8.30am (5.30am Irish time), killing two men and a woman as they were riding in a car near a local restaurant, police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said.
Bomb attacks have been made despite the presence of military checkpoints surrounding the district, a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
In a statement addressed to local supporters yesterday, al-Sadr warned of unspecified action if the military’s “siege” continued. He also criticised what he called the silence of politicians over actions by the US military in the district on Baghdad’s north-eastern edge that is home to about 2.5 million people.
“If this siege continues for long, we will resort to actions which I will have no choice but to take, God willing, and when the time is right,” he said in the statement.
The military set up new checkpoints at entrances to the neighbourhood last week amid a search for a missing US Army translator and attempts to capture a suspected death squad leader blamed in the deaths of scores of rival Sunnis.
Security forces also continued to suffer losses, with one policeman killed and three injured this morning when a roadside bomb struck their patrol in the capital’s south-eastern New Baghdad neighbourhood, police Lt. Mohammed Kheyoun said.
A second officer, police commando unit commander Ali Abdul-Kadhim, was killed by unknown gunmen in a car while standing hear his home in eastern Baghdad, police Capt. Mohammed Abdul-Ghani said.
The bodies of five unidentified people, including a woman, were found dumped early today in eastern Baghdad, police Maj. Mahir Hamid Mussa said. Those killed had been tied up and blindfolded, with their bodies showing signs of torture - typically a sign they had been abducted by death squads, Mussa said.
New violence that followed a lull during last week’s Muslim holy days claimed the lives of at least 81 people across Iraq yesterday.
October has recorded more Iraqi civilian deaths – 1,170 as of Monday – than any other month since May 2005. The next-highest month was March 2006, when 1,038 Iraqi civilians were killed in the aftermath of the Feb. 22 bombing of an important Shiite shrine in Samarra.
October has also been especially deadly for US troops, with the military reporting Tuesday the deaths of two soldiers in fighting in and around the capital.
One Baghdad-based soldier was killed at about 5pm yesterday (2pm Irish time) after being hit by small arms fire in a western district of the capital. A second Baghdad-based soldier was killed when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by a roadside bomb just south of Baghdad, the military said in a brief statement.
The names of the soldiers were being withheld pending notification of their families.
October is already the fourth deadliest month for American troops since the war began in March 2003. The other highest monthly death tolls were 107 in January 2005; at least 135 in April 2004, and 137 in November 2004.