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Twin Baghdad Car Bombs Kill 31, Wound Dozens

Baghdad: Two car bombs exploded on Sunday, killing at least 31 people, breaking what has been a period of relative calm since the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.The biggest blasts in the
PTI September 19, 2010 20:54 IST
PTI
Baghdad: Two car bombs exploded on Sunday, killing at least 31 people, breaking what has been a period of relative calm since the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The biggest blasts in the Iraqi capital in a month occurred as commuters were starting their work week, underlining the challenges facing Iraqi security officials in stabilising Baghdad as the US forces end combat operations and Iraq's police and military assume responsibility for protecting the capital.

At least 10 people were killed when a car bomb exploded in western Baghdad's affluent Mansour neighbourhood, Army Brig. Gen. Ali Fadhal, who is responsible for the western half of the city, told The Associated Press.

He said another 10 were wounded in the attack, and security officials are investigating whether it was the work of a suicide car bomb targeting a crowded commercial area near an AsiaCell store, one of Iraq's biggest mobile phone providers.  The blast sheered off large sections of the concrete walls from the surrounding buildings, and chunks of rubble were strewn around the street.

Dozens of Iraqi army and police officers surrounded the area, keeping journalists at bay.  An eyewitness, working in an office near the blast site said he heard a huge explosion that shattered windows in his office and brought a section of the ceiling down on one customer.

 "Dust and black smoke covered the area and I thought that the car bomb exploded near our office," said the man, who identified himself as Haidar. He said he saw a lot of injured people on the street and helped evacuated a child who was wounded in his back by shrapnel.

Minutes later another car bomb exploded in Adan square in northern Baghdad's Kazimiyah neighbourhood, killing at least 21 and wounding more than 70 others, police and hospital sources said. Two policemen were killed in the blast.  Security officials could be seen roaming the blast site as ambulances and other vehicles blocked the road leading to the checkpoint near a branch office of the Ministry of National Security that police say was targeted. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for attacks that followed President Barack Obama declaration of the end to US combat operations in Iraq on September 1.  Insurgents have intensified their strikes since the announcement, dispatching suicide bombers and detonating car bombs around the capital, targeting Iraqi security forces and government institutions despite a network of police and army checkpoints around Baghdad. (AP)