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Car bomb kills Iraqi pilgrims waiting for a bus

A CAR bomb exploded at a bus station in southwestern Baghdad yesterday, killing seven civilians and wounding 37 others, officials said.

The car was parked next to several buses in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Bayaa, which had been the scene of fierce clashes between Shiite militias and Sunnis two years ago.

The majority of dead and wounded were Shiite pilgrims waiting to board buses on their way to the holy city of Karbala, 80 kilometers south of Baghdad, an Iraqi police official said.

The explosion set several vehicles on fire and scattered debris throughout the area, police reported.

The bus station bombing came just hours after another car bomb exploded near a packed minibus carrying Shiite pilgrims through a mainly Sunni area of eastern Baghdad.

Two people were killed and 12 injured in that blast, police said.

Elsewhere, a suicide car bomb targeted a joint United States-Iraqi patrol in city of Mosul, north of Baghdad.

The car detonated as the patrol passed by, killing one Iraqi soldier and wounding another.

There were no reports of US casualties.

Also in Mosul, a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol killed one officer, said an Iraqi police official.

The bombings came on the day Iran's foreign minister led a delegation of oil and banking officials to Iraq to discuss expanding ties between the countries - a sign of the growing foreign interest in Iraq's economic potential in the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that he was optimistic conditions in the Middle East would improve if President Barack Obama sticks by promises for change made during his election campaign.

"We looked positively at the slogans presented by Obama, and we are still at the same position: if the US administration wants to goes with them, then it's good news," Mottaki told reporters, without citing specifics.

Mottaki was speaking one day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country was ready for talks with the US.


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