Blasts kill at least three in Baghdad
Another pair of bombs struck Baghdad early Tuesday morning, a day after a series of bombings that were the largest attacks in the Iraqi capital in recent weeks.
Tuesday’s incidents occurred in northern Baghdad around 6 a.m., according to the U.S. military. Officials with Multi-National Division — Baghdad put the casualty toll at 18 Iraqis injured, including three police officers.
Wire service reports, citing unnamed Iraqi officials, said three people were killed in the attacks, which struck a crowd of laborers and newspaper delivery workers near Palestine Street.
Maj. Mark Cheadle, a spokesman with the U.S. military in Baghdad, said Tuesday that the bombings in recent days do not appear connected.
"Preliminary investigation results of the physical compound, initiation, timing and other characteristics do not indicate a tie between [Monday’s] and [Tuesday’s] attacks," Cheadle said.
Soldiers from the Army’s 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, are helping secure Tuesday’s bombing site and are investigating the scene, officials said.
Accurate casualty figures from incidents in Iraq are often hard to confirm, with Iraqi and American officials often reporting different numbers.
On Tuesday, the U.S. military said that the previous attacks on Monday in Baghdad killed five civilians and wounded 37 others.
News reports, citing Iraqi Ministry of Interior officials, had put the death toll at more than 30, with more than 70 injured.
Monday’s attack began with the detonation of around 50 pounds of explosives in the trunk of a car bomb, officials said. A second blast, "involving a homemade claymore device, with ¾ inch hex nuts, exploded 135 meters south of the [car bomb] and a third explosion, another homemade claymore exploded 115 meters north of the original blast — also containing ¾ inch hex nuts," U.S. officials said.
The military blamed an al-Qaida in Iraq cell from the Rusafa district of the capital.
In a statement released late Monday, Col. John Hort, commander of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, called the attacks "a despicable, cowardly act of terrorism against peaceful people."
Overall, violence in Baghdad has dropped sharply over the past 18 months. But in recent days, a string of attacks have targeted mainly Iraqi security patrols.
The bombings highlight the continued fragile nature of the security situation in Iraq. A future basing agreement, still under negotiation by the U.S. and Iraq, would see U.S. combat troops leave Iraqi cities by June. And President-elect Obama campaigned on a pledge to bring U.S. forces out of the country within 16 months of taking office.