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Car Bombing Kills 10, Hurts 20 in Iraq

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By LAUREN FRAYER
The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; 5:35 PM

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A car bomb ripped through a bustling shopping district in a religiously mixed neighborhood of western Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and wounding about 20 as the U.S.-Iraqi security operation entered its third week.

The midmorning blast in Baiyaa, a Sunni-Shiite neighborhood, sent flames and debris shooting two stories high, witnesses said. The force of the explosion peeled back corrugated tin roofs. Hours later, charred clothing still clung to the remnants of vendors' stalls.

Imad Jassim, who owns a shop in Baiyaa's market, said he ran out into the street when he heard the explosion.

"People were in a state of panic. There was a lot of blood on the ground, and we helped carry the wounded to the ambulances," Jassim said. "The terrorists behind this massacre want to paralyze life in Baghdad by attacking markets and public crowds."

Hours after the Baiyaa attack, police said guards outside the Bab al-Sheik police station in central Baghdad fired on a suicide truck bomber as he approached them. The bomber changed course and crashed into a cement barrier, detonating his explosives. Two civilians were killed and two policemen and another civilian were wounded in the blast and exchange of gunfire, police said.

The casualty count in the Baiyaa blast was provided by police and hospital officials.

While rescue workers swept still-smoldering debris in Baiyaa, U.S. and Iraqi government spokesmen held news conferences across town to praise what they called a dramatic decrease in violence.

Although car bombings and suicide attacks occur daily, Rear Adm. Mark Fox said overall violence had abated. Still, he cautioned more time was needed to secure Baghdad.

"Although we've seen some initial progress, we know our enemies will continue to attempt to disrupt our efforts, and that improving security in Iraq will take time," he told reporters.

Iraq's spokesman for the Baghdad plan, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Mousawi, called the drop in attacks "remarkable."

But a senior U.S. commander warned against optimistic conclusions after a couple of weeks.

"We could maintain security here, we could have things look good for one or two weeks," Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno told CNN. "But when we've done that, we've always had problems not maintaining it."


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