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Deadly Car Bombs Kill Dozens in Baqouba, Ramadi

BY Admin  April 15, 2008 at 12:30 PM EDT

Family members of Baqouba bomb victims; AP photo

The attacks came a day after 18 people died
in bombings in northern Iraq
and may serve as a stark reminder that that Sunni insurgents continue to pose a
threat to stability, even as clashes between Shiite militia fighters and
U.S.-Iraqi forces rage elsewhere.

The first blast Tuesday occurred in the former
insurgent stronghold of Baqouba, a city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province that has enjoyed
relative stability in recent months. A car parked in front of a restaurant
exploded around lunchtime, The Associated Press reported.

“I was on my way to the government
office when a big explosion occurred,” a witness to the blast, who would
only identify himself by his nickname Abu Ali, told the AP. “As I approached
the site, I saw cars on fire, burned bodies and damaged shops damaged with
shattered glass everywhere.”

Restaurants, shops and government offices
were reportedly damaged in the explosion.

At
least 40 people were killed and 70 wounded in the blast, according to police
and hospital officials quoted by the AP.

The U.S. military said overall attacks
in Diyala province have dropped more than 76 percent since June 2007.

“Although attacks such as today’s
event are tragic, it is not indicative of the overall security situation in Baqouba,”
Maj. Mike Garcia, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Diyala, said in a
statement.

In another Tuesday attack, a suicide
bomber on a motorcycle later drove up to a kebab restaurant in Ramadi, 70 miles
west of Baghdad, and detonated his explosives vest around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday,
killing at least 13 people including three policemen who were eating at the
establishment, according to media reports.

Ramadi has also seen a drop-off in
violence in recent months.

A
parked car bomb also targeted a police patrol in central Baghdad, killing at least three civilian
passersby and wounding 15 other people, police said, according to media reports.

In
other violence Tuesday, U.S.
soldiers backed by an airstrike killed six militants during clashes in the
Sudayrah area near Baghdad’s Shiite militia
stronghold of Sadr
City, the military said.

Police told Reuters that at least six people have been
killed and 26 wounded in Sadr
City clashes — violence
that has left many frightened residents trapped in their homes.