Wave of Baghdad car bombings kills 17

By Ahmed Rasheed
Reuters
Monday, July 23, 2007; 11:30 AM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 17 people were killed and dozens wounded by a wave of car bombings in central Baghdad on Monday, most of them in a predominantly Shi'ite district, police and witnesses said.

The bombings came as Iraq's deeply divided government prepared to host a second round of rare talks between arch rivals Iran and the United States on Tuesday to discuss Iraqi security, and a political crisis meeting on Friday.

Three of the four car bombings tore through Baghdad's Karrada district on the eastern side of the Tigris River, two of them exploding almost simultaneously, one near a government office and one in a busy market area about 500 meters away.

One went off near a Karrada office which issues identity cards to Iraqis. Police said the bomb's target appeared to be a passing police patrol and that three police officers were among six people killed. Twenty people were hurt.

"It was a horrible scene, suddenly fire spread all over the area. I saw two charred bodies of policemen inside their car and the wounded were lying on the ground, only their hands moving and asking for help," Abu Nour, a 45-year-old supermarket owner, told Reuters.

"We were terrified, we could see only fire, destruction and death. I started to hate life," he said.

Television pictures showed a line of burning cars in a narrow street leading to the identity card office as residents and shoppers ran for cover.

Four people were killed and 18 wounded in the almost simultaneous blast nearby in an area close to one of the main bridges over the Tigris to the heavily fortified Green Zone.

Less than an hour later a third car bomb, again apparently targeting a passing police patrol, detonated in Karrada's al-Wathiq square, killing three people, two of them policemen.

Four people died soon afterwards when a car bomb exploded at lunchtime outside Seerwan, Baghdad's most popular kebab restaurant, across the Tigris next to the Green Zone.

SECURITY CRACKDOWN

The U.S. military began a security crackdown in Baghdad five months ago in an attempt to stem bombings, many of them blamed on Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, and sectarian killings between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunni Arabs.


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