Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Dozens dead in Iraq bomb attacks

At least 46 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in three separate bomb attacks in Iraq.
In the deadliest blast, 25 people were killed and 65 wounded when a car bomb ripped through a busy marketplace north-east of the capital Baghdad.

Earlier, a car bomb killed 12 in a market in Hilla, south of Baghdad.

The latest attack, which hit a bakery in Baghdad's south-eastern Jedida district, left nine dead and 10 injured, police said.

The blast came as rescue officials were still clearing the scene from the earlier bomb attack on a vegetable market in the Shia district of Husseiniya, some 32km (20 miles) north of Baghdad.

The car bomb in Hilla, 100km (60 miles) south of Baghdad, targeted a second-hand car market. The blast killed 12 people and wounded 32.

In other violence:

A rocket is fired at Iraq's interior ministry, killing two women employees and wounding four policemen.

A police officer is killed and at least three others injured by a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad

The bodies of two US marines killed in a helicopter crash in western Iraq over the weekend have been recovered

The bodies of three men are found in different areas of Baghdad - reports say the men were blindfolded and handcuffed and had been tortured and shot in the head

Anbar deployment

Meanwhile, the US military said it had decided to move a reserve force of about 1,500 troops from Kuwait into the western Iraqi province of Anbar.

Troops will be deployed in an attempt to help establish the rule of law throughout the volatile province.

Anbar province, which stretches west of Baghdad to the Syrian border, has seen some of the fiercest fighting in the Sunni-led insurgency.

The reserve force will bolster the US and Iraqi troops already serving there.

BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says the move, which was announced by the Pentagon, underscores how dangerous the situation has become in Anbar.

US officials have acknowledged that parts of the sparsely-populated province are held by insurgents, including sections of the regional capital, Ramadi, which one official referred to as the "most contested city" in Iraq.

Ramadi lies just 122km (70 miles) west of Baghdad and officials believe that depriving the insurgents of a foothold there is a vital step towards protecting the Iraqi capital.

Threat of force

In a separate development, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said he would fly to the southern city of Basra on Wednesday to try to halt the in-fighting between his fellow Shias.

In an interview with Reuters, Mr Maliki said he was ready to use force against gangs who held crucial oil exports and other trade to ransom.

"There's no way we can leave Basra, the gateway to Iraq, our imports and exports, at the mercy of criminal, terrorist gangs," he said. "We will use force against these gangs."

His comments came after a small Shia faction threatened to halt oil exports through Basra in an attempt to exert leverage over the Iraqi government.

And in an interview with the BBC, Mr Maliki also insisted he had a better chance of tackling the daily carnage in Iraq than his predecessors because he was head of the country's first permanent administration since the US-led invasion.

"Previous governments were either temporary or transitional. They did not receive full backing from the Iraqi people to deal with this issue," he said.



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