Another wave of bombings hit Iraq

BAGHDAD: Two suicide car bombers struck within a minute of each other and just a kilometer (half mile) apart in south Baghdad shortly before noon Thursday, killing at least seven policemen and raising the day's bombing death toll in the capital to at least 31, police said.

Earlier Thursday, the day's first suicide car bombing killed sixteen policemen and five civilians in the same neighborhood, signaling a new round bomb violence one day after residents suffered through Baghdad's bloodiest day of the war.

Three civilians were killed when a roadside bomb struck a Ministry of Industry bus in eastern Baghdad. Thirteen were injured in the attack, said police Lt. Col. Ahmed Abbod.

The U.S. military and Iraqi police drove through Baghdad's Dora neighborhood, where the bombings were concentrated Thursday, warning residents to stay indoors because five more car bombers were said to be ready to attack, police Capt. Ali Abdul Hamza said. Streets in the southern neighborhood were abandoned.

Al-Qaida in Iraq said it launched the Wednesday attacks. There was no immediate claim for the Thursday bombings.

Al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, purportedly declared "all-out war" on Shiites, Iraqi troops and the government in an audiotape posted Wednesday on an Internet site known for carrying extremist Islamic content.

U.S. forces and insurgents, meanwhile, reportedly clashed in the troubled western town of Ramadi, a militant stronghold on the main road to neighboring Jordan. A Web posting purportedly from Al-Qaida in Iraq said its forces had engaged the American military in the predominantly Sunni city of about 800,000.

On Wednesday, more than a dozen coordinated bombings ripped through Baghdad, killing 160 people and wounding 570. Many of the victims were day laborers lured by a suicide attacker posing as an employer.

In claiming it carried out the Wednesday attacks, Al-Qaida said it was taking retaliation for the rout of militants from their base in Tal Afar, the northern city near the Syrian border.

The Thursday attacks in the capital began at 8 a.m. Four hours later the twin bombing boomed out across Baghdad.

"There was just one minute and one kilometer between the two car bombs," said police Capt. Firas Gaiti said. He said at least seven policemen died and 10 were wounded.

In the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Baghdad, insurgents detonated a roadside bomb next to a passing patrol, killing two police officers and wounding four, said Col. Anwar Hassan, head of the local security unit.

U.S. and Iraqi troops in Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, came under mortar attack Thursday morning as armed militants roamed the streets, police Capt. Nasir Alusi said.

All shops in the town were closed and the streets were empty as automatic gunfire echoed through the town's industrial zone, Alusi said.

Wednesday's spasm of violence terrorized the capital for more than nine hours. The first attack, at 6:30 a.m., was the deadliest: a suicide car blast which tore through the predominantly Shiite Muslim neighborhood of Kazimiyah.

In what was believed to be a new tactic, the bomber set off the explosive after calling the construction and other workers to his small van and enticing them with promises of employment, a witness said. At least 112 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded.

Iraqi forces arrested two insurgents in connection with the bombing, one of them a Palestinian and the other a Libyan, Iraqi television quoted Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari as saying. Al-Jaafari also said the suicide bomber was a Syrian, without offering any details how the identification was made so quickly.

Al-Qaida in Iraq said in a Web posting that it launched the attacks, some less than 10 minutes apart, in response to the Tal Afar offensive, which began Saturday.

"To the nation of Islam, we give you the good news that the battles of revenge for the Sunni people of Tal Afar began yesterday," said the al-Qaida statement posted on a militant Web site. Its authenticity could not be confirmed.

The audiotape was posted later Wednesday. The speaker, introduced as al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, said his militant forces would attack any Iraqi they believe has cooperated with the Tal Afar offensive.

A spokesman for the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars condemned Zarqawi's threats, and said he was trying to foment civil war between Sunnis and Shiites.

"Zarqawi speaks from the position of revenge," Muhammed Bashar Faidi, a spokesman for the group, said on Al-Arabiya television on Thursday. "This position by Zarqawi is aimed at provoking sectarian war (but) if he wants a war he should fight the occupation forces and not innocents."

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