Double bombing in Baghdad hits commercial area, killing 15

By Sameer N. Yacoub

BAGHDAD – Two bombs went off within minutes of each other in a Baghdad commercial district Thursday evening, killing 15 people and wounding 35, police and officials at three hospitals said.

The attack began when a roadside bomb exploded in the primarily Shiite, middle-class neighborhood of Karradah. A couple of minutes later, a bomb blew up in a nearby garbage can.

A police officer said the blasts also damaged seven shops and four parked cars. Like the rest of those who provided information, he spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release information.

Many of the victims were teens or young adults and four were women, police and hospital officials said.

Clothing store owner Hassan Abdullah was standing near his shop when the first explosion went off about 150 yards away. He starting walking toward the scene when the second blast took place.

“I saw a leg and a hand falling near me as I was walking. The whole place was a mess,” said Abdullah, 25. “Wounded people were crying for help and people started to run away. Police pickups and ambulances arrived at the scene to pick up the casualties.”

Abdullah said Karradah was crowded because it was the start of Iraq’s Friday-Saturday weekend and the weather was clear and pleasant.

“The aim of such attacks is the random killing of as many people as possible in order to terrorize the Iraqi people,” he said.

Violence has dropped substantially in Baghdad over the last half-year with the boost in U.S. troops, a cease-fire by a powerful Shiite militia, and some Sunni fighters turning away from al-Qaida in Iraq.

But multiple killings are still a daily occurrence. Two separate bombings killed at least 11 people on Monday, according to U.S. military figures.

Meanwhile, U.S. and Iraqi forces killed 13 suspected insurgents and detained 44 others in raids targeting al-Qaida in central and northern Iraq, the U.S. military said Thursday. Three Iraqi troops were killed in one of the operations.

The Tal Afar Special Weapons and Tactics team, made up of U.S. forces and Iraqi SWAT teams, on Sunday targeted a cell responsible for assassinations and bombing attacks in the Tal Afar area in Iraq’s Ninevah province, the military said in a statement.

During the raid, several fighters opened fire on the Iraqi and U.S. troops, killing the three Iraqi soldiers and wounding three others.

The U.S.-Iraqi team killed nine suspected insurgents. Three Iraqi civilians were wounded and treated at the scene and eight suspected cell members were detained for questioning, including two who were wounded and evacuated to a military hospital for treatment, the military said.

During the operation, the team found bomb-making materials, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, rifles, grenades, a land mine and ammunition, according to the statement.

The Americans and their Iraqi allies are pushing to take control of the Ninevah region, where insurgent fighters are making a stand after their influence diminished in Baghdad and other areas last year. Tal Afar is located about 260 miles northwest of Baghdad.

In another operation, U.S. soldiers shot and killed a man who drew a pistol on them and then tried to detonate a bomb-laden suicide vest. Three suspected al-Qaida members were also detained during the operation near the central city of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad.

Another al-Qaida suspect who was also killed near Samarra was allegedly involved in racketeering and embezzlement to fund the extremist organization.