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Iraq Transition

More than 60 killed in three car bombings in Baghdad

Story Highlights

• U.S. military says suspected leader of car bomb ring captured
• At least 62 killed in three car bomb attacks Sunday
• U.S. military says four "terrorist facilitators" killed in raid
• Secretary of state makes surprise visit to Baghdad
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Amid a massive security operation to secure Baghdad, car bombs Sunday struck in two Shiite neighborhoods, targeting civilians and police, Iraqi officials said.

At least 62 people were reported killed, most of them civilians killed in a twin car bomb attack.

The two car bombs detonated in quick succession near marketplaces and bus stops in the southeastern district of Baghdad known as al-Jadida, or "New Baghdad," killing 60 people and wounding at least 131 others, Baghdad police said. (Watch how attacks raise questions about Baghdad security plan Video)

The attack happened around 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) along the main commercial street that runs through the mostly Shiite district.

About an hour later, a car bomb detonated near an Iraqi National Police checkpoint in Sadr City, killing two -- a civilian and an Iraqi soldier -- and wounding 11 civilians, an Interior Ministry official said.

Sadr City is a stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The attacks come as Iraqi forces, supported by U.S. troops, continue their effort to secure Baghdad from insurgent attacks.

Some 112,000 coalition and Iraqi security forces are devoted to the Baghdad security crackdown, dubbed "Fardh Al-Qanoon," or "Enforcing the Law."

In the past couple of days, Iraqi and U.S. troops have started creating pedestrian-only zones around Baghdad's marketplaces, which are vulnerable to attacks from car bombers targeting civilians, a U.S. Army commander said Friday.

"We'll therefore be denying these car bombs the ability to direct themselves as precision weapons where people are the most vulnerable," said Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., commanding general of Multi-National Division Baghdad and the 1st Cavalry Division.

"We also do believe they are watching us carefully" to determine their next moves, Fil said.

U.S., Iraqi forces report crackdown successes

As part of the Baghdad security crackdown, Iraqi security forces over the past day defused a car bomb and 13 other bombs, killed 15 suspected terrorists, and detained six others, according to an Iraqi government news release issued Sunday.

Iraqi security forces also helped 327 families displaced by the violence to return to their homes across Baghdad, the news release stated.

The U.S. military announced on Sunday the capture of a suspected leader of a car bombing network.

The military said the man was found hiding in a hospital, which he was apparently using as "a safe haven to avoid capture during ongoing security operations."

He was captured by Iraqi and U.S. forces on Saturday along with two associates, the military said.

Meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition forces killed four suspected terrorist facilitators and arrested four suspected terrorists during a raid Sunday in southwestern Iraq, the U.S. military announced.

The military said as troops were searching the building, they found three pistols and two AK-47s, along with eight women and 23 children.

Why the children and women were present was not explained in the military's statement, but "ground forces confirmed none ... were injured during the operation," it said.

In eastern Mosul on Saturday, the U.S. military said the Ninewa special weapons and tactics team, backed by coalition advisers, arrested a man thought to be linked to terrorist group al Qaeda in Iraq.

The suspect had reportedly attempted to launch several attacks on Iraqi security and coalition forces in the area.

Two U.S. soldiers killed Saturday

The U.S. military announced Sunday that two U.S. Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldiers were killed Saturday in separate attacks in Iraq.

One soldier was killed when insurgents opened fire on a foot patrol of Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldiers operating just north of Baghdad, the military said.

The other died when insurgents threw a grenade at the unit's vehicle during combat operations in Baquba, about 30 miles north of Baghdad.

With the deaths, 3,134 U.S. military personnel have died in the Iraq war, including seven civilian contractors of the Defense Department.

Rice visits Baghdad

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Saturday to assess the security crackdown there.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Rice discussed security and reconstruction in the war-ravaged nation. She also met with U.S. and other Iraqi officials, an embassy spokesman said.

Rice then traveled on to Jerusalem for a series of meetings with leaders from the region. (Full story)

Rice said she had been told the Iraqis are "doing the job alongside their coalition counterparts and they are off to a good start." (Watch Rice praise the Iraqi prime minister's leadership Video)

She said that the security plan, which primarily targets militant factions in Baghdad, is "just beginning to unfold" and will grow over time.

Speaking Saturday to U.S. mission personnel in Baghdad, Rice made reference to the domestic debate over the war.

Rice said Americans appreciate their fellow citizens' efforts in Iraq regardless of what they think of Bush administration policies there.

"I know that a lot's going on in Washington and that you're hearing it," she said. "A lot's going on because we are a great democracy, and people have their views and they're going to express them."

"People know what you're doing and it's appreciated across the board. I don't care what people think of the policies; it's appreciated across the board."

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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An Iraqi police car transports people injured by a car bomb in Baghdad Sunday.

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