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String of Bombings Kills Dozens Ahead of Shiite Holiday

The first blast occurred when a man wearing an explosives-laden vest blew himself up in a crowd near a mosque in the Doura area of southwestern Baghdad, killing at least 15 people, said police Capt. Falah al-Mahdawi, according to the Associated Press. At least 20 others were injured.

Soon after, an explosion near an Ashoura procession in the Shiite Ash Shulah district northwest of the city center killed two people and injured five, said 1st Lt. Waed Hussein.

Another suicide bombing outside the Al Bayaa mosque in a predominately Shiite neighborhood of western Baghdad killed at least 10 people, according to an official at Baghdad’s al-Yarmouk hospital, the AP reported.

Seven people died and 10 were wounded when a car bomb exploded outside a Shiite mosque in Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of the capital Baghdad, according to the AP.

A policeman was killed in a separate blast at an Iraqi police and National Guard checkpoint in a Sunni neighborhood.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the explosions, but Iraqis blamed radical Sunni Muslim insurgents, who have been staging kidnappings and bombings to try to destabilize the country’s reconstruction and provoke a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis.

“Those infidel Wahhabis, those Osama bin Laden followers, they did this because they hate Shiites,” said Sari Abdullah, who was injured by shrapnel from the first bombing, according to the AP.

Mohsen al-Hakim, political adviser to Abdul Aziz al-Hakim — the head of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq — said there may be more violence over the weekend, but the Shiites would not retaliate with violence.

“We are expecting that attacks might increase today and tomorrow,” he told Reuters. “The only way to fight them is by having strong security organizations.”

He continued, “With all the anger that Shiites could feel, the fact is they are controlled by political leadership and the marjaeyah (Shiite leadership) so I don’t think there will be any acts that are out of control.”

Last year during the Ashoura holiday, at least 181 people were killed in a series of suicide bombings in Iraq, according to the AP.

Meanwhile, the bodies of six Iraqi soldiers who were kidnapped and shot in the head and chest were found around the northern city of Samarra on Friday, Reuters reported. An army official said the six soldiers had been kidnapped a week ago.

Two other policemen were shot as they worked as guards at power stations in Samarra, police sources said.

Militants also continued to target American soldiers. The U.S. military announced Friday that four soldiers had died in separate attacks in the last 48 hours. Much of the violence centered on the northern city of Mosul, where three separate attacks killed three of the soldiers Thursday. The fourth American died in a roadside bombing Friday near Baghdad. At least five other Americans were wounded in the attacks.

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