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August 11, 2009

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Wave of bombings in Iraq kills at least 48

A DOUBLE truck bombing tore through the village of a small Shiite ethnic minority near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, while nine blasts wracked Baghdad yesterday in a wave of violence that killed at least 48 people and wounded more than 250 others, Iraqi officials said.

The deadliest blast was a truck bombing in Khazna village, just east of Mosul, home of the Shabak, a small Shiite ethnic group.

The Shabak, who have their own distinct language and belief system, are part of the mosaic of ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq's north that include Yazidis, Assyrian Christians, Turkomen Shiites and Kurds - all of whom have been targeted in the past by Sunni Arab insurgents.

The two explosives-laden trucks went off nearly simultaneously and less than 500 meters apart, killing at least 28 people and wounding 138, said police and hospital officials.

The explosions left a 2 meter crater and reduced the neighborhood to piles of bricks, twisted metal and smoking debris.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni insurgents who remain active in Mosul and surrounding areas, police said.

The village was a relatively easy target because it lacked many of the security measures prevalent in larger cities. A similar attack by a suicide truck bomber against a small Turkomen Shiite village last Friday flattened a mosque and killed 44.

A string of nine bombs also went off across Baghdad yesterday despite the security gains there that have prompted the Iraqi government to order the removal of nearly all the blast walls in the city within 40 days.

Far from secure

The first bomb was hidden in a pile of trash that exploded about 5:50am near a group of day laborers drinking tea in the religiously mixed neighborhood of Amil, killing at least seven people and wounding 46, officials said.

About 10 minutes later a car bomb targeted construction workers in western Baghdad, killing another 10 people and wounding 35, according to police.

Three bombs also exploded in the mainly Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah shortly before 7am, wounding a member of a government-backed paramilitary group, an army official said.

A few hours later a roadside bomb exploded in front of a mosque in the primarily Sunni neighborhood of Sadiyah in southwest Baghdad, killing two and wounding 14 others, a police official said.

A minibus exploded in the Shiite Shula neighborhood in northwest Baghdad, killing one and wounding three more, another official said. Two other bombs went off elsewhere in the city, wounding a total of 10 other people.

The attacks also have raised concerns about the ability of Iraqi security forces to contain violence as US combat troops wind down duties as part of a withdrawal plan that would see all American forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

The US has said the insurgency is waning, though still capable of pulling off sporadic, high-profile attacks that target primarily civilians and security forces.


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