Baghdad bombs kill 19, police battle suicide attackers

BAGHDAD Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:04pm EDT

1 of 11. Civil defence personnel work at the site of a bomb attack in central Baghdad July 31, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Saad Shalash

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Twin car bombs hit central Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 19 people, and security forces fought off a separate attack inside a police station by two suicide bombers trying to free al Qaeda prisoners.

The major assault underscored the seriousness of Iraq's struggle with insurgents more than seven months after the last U.S. troops left behind a country still grappling with political instability and sectarian tensions.

Clouds of dark smoke rose above the centre of the capital where the car bombs exploded minutes apart, leaving the dead and wounded lying in the street or slumped inside a damaged minibus, witnesses and police said.

As security forces began to help the victims, at least two suicide bombers dressed as police officers got into a nearby police station, where al Qaeda prisoners were being held, and tried to free them, two security sources said.

It was unclear how many people had been killed or wounded in the assault, but both bombers had been killed, one security official said.

"Their aim was to take hostages in order to release major al-Qaeda prisoners," one senior security source said. "Most officers went to the floor above them to fight them, which is why they failed."

The attack coincides with a surge in violence in Iraq and comes as bloodshed in neighboring Syria is escalating. Iraqi officials have warned that some Sunni Muslim insurgents are heading to Syria and al Qaeda's local Iraqi affiliate has called on its followers to intensify their campaign.

Al Qaeda's Iraqi wing, Islamic State of Iraq, was badly weakened by the loss of top commanders in the war against U.S. troops, but the insurgents have carried out at least one major assault a month since the U.S. withdrawal in December.


Three young men in blood-stained T-shirts searched for a friend near the wreckage of one of Tuesday's car bomb blasts in Baghdad as women in traditional abaya gowns screamed the name of a missing relative, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

"We were in a patrol when we heard the first explosion. The second explosion hit another square, and we went to help ... There was a minibus with six dead passengers inside it," said Ahmed Hassan, a police officer.

The explosions followed attacks and bombings in Baghdad and across the country on July 23 that killed more than 100 people in a coordinated surge of violence against mostly Shi'ite Muslim targets. Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility.

Overall levels of violence have eased since sectarian killings reached their height in 2006-2007 when tens of thousands of Sunnis and Shi'ites were slain.

However, Al Qaeda still often targets Shi'ite pilgrims or religious sites in an attempt to stir up sectarian tensions and to show that Iraq's armed forces are unable to protect civilians.

Last month was one of the bloodiest since the U.S. withdrawal, with at least 237 people killed and 603 wounded.

Iraq's violence often feeds into political tensions.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, is fending off attempts by Sunni and Kurdish rivals to vote him out of office, threatening to scuttle a fragile power-sharing agreement.

(Additional reporting by Aseel Kami and Saad Shalash in Baghdad; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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Comments (4)
paintcan wrote:
Perhaps the 21st century has invented a new state of global life. It would be a perpetual state of war that isn’t quite all out destruction and peace that is always threatened with spot carnage. It’s just a bit more dramatic than the peace I grew up in when war was very far away but when states at war were the scenes of horrendous destruction and loss of life.

It is a kind of homogenization of the poles of life.

Social theorists and historians could call it the age of Weace or Par? Maybe they’ll think of a better name or perhaps they won’t even notice? Cities will look like the opening scenes of Blade Runner or Children of Men. The infrastructure of artificial intelligence will provide for the continuity of generation to generation. The machines will be guarded like they were sacred objects but the flesh will always be reminded what it is err too. It won’t be very different that hearing every year that about 50,000 met their maker on the nation’s highway.

The only trouble with it is: No one will ever know what he or she was asked to fight and die for or live and pay for. Life will always be a bit more obviously dicey. After a while sanity itself will be redefined downward. Those definitions were never very accurate anyway.

The highest volume product in the pharmaceutical market will be sedatives.

I rather hope it is something else. The historians won’t be able to name it because the 21st century was really undergoing what used to be called “Death Rattles”.

Jul 31, 2012 9:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
neahkahnie wrote:
I’m so glad to hear from the Defense Department of the United States that Al Qaeda has been so weakened. I’m sure the people and government in Iraq are just as glad. Now they know that Al Qaeda is not responsible for the bombings.

Jul 31, 2012 1:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
fromthecenter wrote:
How long before McCain and Romney and the other chicken hawks want to send troops back in? Lets spend another trillion that we will get back by the sale of oil to make this a model democracy for the middle east?

Jul 31, 2012 2:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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