Three parked cars exploded within 30 minutes in a predominantly Shiite area in Baghdad today, killing at least 12 people, police said, the deadliest in a series of bombings and shooting attacks nationwide.
In Baghdad’s north-eastern outskirts, residents of a Shiite militia stronghold complained that their neighbourhood was under siege by US and Iraqi forces.
The US military said vehicle traffic was not being permitted in the Husseiniyah area but it was now letting residents walk or use donkey carts to collect food.
Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad, meanwhile, confirmed that the United States and Iran will discuss the security situation in Iraq tomorrow in Baghdad, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
“The composition of the negotiating teams will include ambassadors of Iran and America in Baghdad, as head of the two teams, with observance of Iraqi officials,” IRNA quoted Hasan Kazemi Qomi as saying today.
Two of the blasts in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Karradah struck nearly simultaneously.
One targeted a passing police patrol, killing three officers and three pedestrians and wounding nine other people, a police officer said, adding that at least seven cars also were damaged in the blast, which struck near to the Interior Ministry’s nationality and social affairs directorate and the 14th of July bridge, he added.
Another parked car bomb about 500 yards away struck at about the same time, ripping through a bustling market of vegetables and household goods, killing three civilians and wounding five others, the policeman added.
AP Television News footage showed US soldiers milling about the charred wreckage, with shattered glass and blackened debris from nearby shops and street stalls strewn on the bloodstained pavement.
Another car packed with explosives struck a police patrol in Elwiyah square in another part of Karradah, killing two policemen and a civilian and wounding five people, police said.
Karradah, a popular shopping area, has been hit by several high-profile bombings, and Monday’s attack occurred despite a 5-month-old US-Iraqi security operation aimed at stopping such violence in the capital.
Hassan Sami, a 28-year-old clothing store owner in Karradah, said he was showered by shattered glass and wounded in the left arm.
“Nothing was left except the smell of charred flesh mixed with gun powder and wreckage stained with blood,” Sami said. “We’ve been attacked many times before and the government can’t do anything for this area, it only sends its patrols who roam the streets with their annoying sirens without doing anything useful.”
Another car packed with explosives blew up on the main road about 200 yards from an entry point to the US-controlled Green Zone, killing at least four Iraqis and wounding seven, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. The heavily fortified Green Zone is home to the US and British embassies as well as Iraqi government offices and thousands of American troops and contractors.
Elsewhere in the capital, a bomb exploded on a minibus near a busy commercial area, killing one person and wounding nine others, police said.
A roadside bomb struck an Iraqi army patrol about 75 miles east of Baghdad, near the Iranian border, killing five troops, according to police and morgue officials. The explosion occurred on the south-eastern edge of the volatile Diyala province.
Also near the Iranian border, gunmen ambushed a convoy of trucks loaded with goods being sent from major wholesale markets in Baghdad to Khanaqin, 90 miles north-east of Baghdad.
Five people were killed and three others kidnapped, including drivers and guards, police said.
In western Anbar province, security officials said at least two policemen were killed and 10 wounded when a woman hiding an explosives belt under her Islamic gown blew herself up as she was about to be searched at a checkpoint on the western outskirts of Ramadi. Although suicide bombings regularly claim scores of victims in Iraq’s sectarian violence, female bombers remain relatively rare.
In all, at least 42 people killed nationwide today, according to security officials.