7 Killed in Baghdad Near Shiite Shrine

By Sudarsan Raghavan and Qais Mizher
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, April 9, 2009

BAGHDAD, April 8 -- A bomb tucked inside a plastic bag detonated yards from Baghdad's most important Shiite shrine Wednesday, killing seven people and injuring more than 20, authorities said, the latest of several attacks targeting mostly Shiite areas in recent days.

The assault occurred around noon in the capital's Kadhimiyah neighborhood, as worshipers made their way to the Imam Musa al-Khadim shrine. Witnesses said that women and children were among the victims and that Iraqi security forces blocked ambulances from entering the crowded area.

"People used carts to remove the wounded," said Um Ridha, 30, a teacher.

The attack occurred a day after a car bomb detonated in the same neighborhood, killing nine people, including a woman whose son was rescued from a burning taxi by a man, who later handed the infant to his uncle, police said. On Monday, six car bombs detonated across Baghdad, killing at least 34 people. The violence came as President Obama made his first trip to Iraq since taking office.

No group has asserted responsibility for the attacks, but U.S. military officials blame the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq. Some Iraqi officials have accused former members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party of mounting the attacks to mark the anniversary of the party's founding this week. Thursday also marks the sixth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to American troops, which ended Hussein's reign.

Also Wednesday, Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta said the government would "review" the files of prisoners released from U.S. detention facilities to determine whether they were involved in any of the recent bombings. The United States is gradually freeing or turning over to Iraqi control those in its custody, under a security agreement signed in November. Iraqi officials have voiced concern that some of those freed are returning to the insurgency.

On Tuesday, Izzat Ibrahim Douri, the most senior Hussein deputy to remain on the run and the de facto leader of what remains of the Baath Party, released an audiotape that was posted on insurgent Web sites. In the recording, Douri urges insurgents to maintain their struggle against U.S. forces and Iraq's Shiite-led government, which he called illegitimate because "the political process is the main project of the occupier."

"So fight it by all the instruments you have," Douri says, adding that the "enemy will never leave our country except by force."

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