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At least 41 die in Iraq as bomber attacks rise

BOMBS in Baghdad and northern Iraq killed at least 41 people and wounded more than 80 yesterday, just over a week after United States troops handed security in city centers to local forces.

Two suicide attacks in Tal Afar, a town 420 kilometers northwest of Baghdad that is mainly home to minority Turkmen, killed 34 people and wounded 60.

One suicide bomber detonated an explosives vest, followed by another suicide attack just as people responded to the first, said a police official in Nineveh Province, where groups like al-Qaida have taken advantage of tensions between Sunni Arabs and ethnic Kurds to maintain a campaign of violence.

In Baghdad, seven people were killed and 20 were wounded by two bomb blasts in a market in Sadr City, a poor, Shi'ite Muslim area of the Iraqi capital.

Police said both bombs had been placed among rubbish piles in the popular Sadr City market. Reuters Television footage showed the blood-stained interior of a minivan damaged in the attack.

The bloodshed following the US-led invasion in 2003 has dropped sharply, but ethnically and religiously mixed Nineveh Province in Iraq's north is still wracked by violence.

US officials describe Nineveh and its capital Mosul as a last stronghold for al-Qaida and other Sunni Arab insurgents. The province is also the scene of growing tensions between Arabs and minority Kurds, who controlled Nineveh's government until Arabs took charge in provincial polls in January.

On Wednesday night, two car bombs exploded within minutes of each other in Mosul, killing 14 people and wounding 33.

There has been a steady drumbeat of attacks in the city, many of them targeting Iraqi police and soldiers, since US combat troops withdrew from urban centers on June 30. It is a milestone in the plan for a gradual withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq by the end of 2011.

While Sunni-Shi'ite sectarian violence has faded, simmering disputes between the Shi'ite Arab-led government in Baghdad and Kurds, are viewed by many as the country's next major threat.


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