Attacks Rip Through Baghdad District

The Associated Press
Thursday, July 26, 2007; 8:38 PM

BAGHDAD -- A highly sophisticated simultaneous truck bombing and rocket attack devastated a Shiite market district in one of Baghdad's safest central neighborhoods Thursday, killing at least 28 people and wounding 95. Separately, the American military announced the deaths of seven U.S. troops.

Although suicide bombings are common in Iraq, it is rare for militants to stage a double attack with such effectiveness. The attackers struck about 6:40 p.m. as the Karradah district's market area was packed with shoppers on the eve of the Islamic day of rest.

An explosives-laden garbage truck exploded near the market at about the same time as a Katyusha rocket slammed into a three-story residential building about 100 yards away. Three columns of smoke billowed into the sky and fires burned on the ground after the thunderous explosions, which set cars and buildings ablaze.

Many residents were crying as they searched for missing relatives.

"The terrorists, curse them, are behind this act," said Firas Rahim, who sells clothes at a stand near the site of the blasts.

"They are angry because the people were celebrating and happy yesterday. Now they took their revenge," he said, referring to the jubilation that filled the streets of Baghdad after the soccer team advanced to Sunday's finals in the Asian Cup.

An Iraqi military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, later blamed Sunni extremists for the rocket attack. He did not mention the car bombing reported by police.

The casualty toll was provided by police and hospital officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information. They said 14 cars were destroyed along with 17 stores selling everything from accessories to falafel sandwiches.

Rahim said he saw at least three buildings on fire, with firefighters climbing ladders to rescue people stuck in their apartments.

The attack was the deadliest in a series of bombings nationwide Thursday. At least 78 people were killed or found dead, a day after two suicide car bombings killed and wounded dozens of revelers celebrating the national team's semifinal victory in Asia's top soccer tournament.

With five days to go before the end of July, an Associated Press tally showed that at least 1,759 Iraqis were killed in war-related violence through July 26, a more than 7 percent increase over the 1,640 who were reported killed in all of June.

Victims of sectarian slayings were also on the rise. At least 723 bodies were found dumped across Iraq so far in July, or an average of nearly 28 a day, compared with 19 a day in June, when 563 bodies were reported found, according to the AP tally.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Associated Press