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Twin Bombings Kill at Least 37, Wound 50 North of Baghdad

July 5, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT

GWEN IFILL: Twin bombings shattered the calm in a city north of Baghdad today. More than three dozen Iraqis were killed, with 50 or more wounded. It was the latest sign of rising violence as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw.

The charred remains of a car bomb littered a street in the city of Taji this afternoon. It blew up in the parking lot of a local government building, damaging nearby businesses and killing dozens of people. As ambulances and security forces rushed to help, they were hit by a second blast, this one from a roadside bomb.

Taji was only the latest target of attacks, including a raid that killed eight Iraqis in Baquba and a bombing that killed 22 in Diwaniya. Forty more died in a Baghdad bombing two weeks ago. And three American soldiers were killed near the border with Iran last week. In all, 15 Americans died in Iraq last month, the highest toll since June 2008.

In Washington today, a State Department spokeswoman condemned the violence.

VICTORIA NULAND, State Department spokeswoman: The people who are doing this are not only enemies of the U.S. They’re also enemies of the Iraqi people and their desire to live peacefully and have stability in their future. We continue to work with the Iraqis on — on ensuring that they have a full and strong and stable government.

GWEN IFILL: U.S. forces officially ended combat operations in Iraq last August, but 47,000 troops remain and are scheduled to withdraw by year’s end.

Iraqi leaders are scheduled to meet this week to talk about asking for at least some of the U.S. force to remain. Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr oppose that, demanding instead that U.S. forces depart as scheduled.