Baghdad bombs kill 28 people: police

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two bombs killed at least 28 people and wounded 55 in Baghdad on Saturday, police said.

The explosions on a long holiday weekend shook the city, where car bombs, roadside blasts and other attacks still strike routinely despite a sharp drop in violence in the last year.

The first explosion took place at a bus and taxi station in the Shi’ite district of Kadhimiya in northwestern Baghdad, where people usually gather at a major Shi’ite shrine on Saturdays.

Police said women and children were among the 25 dead and 45 wounded in the attack. The U.S. military put the toll at 20 dead and 25 wounded.

After the attack, security forces sifted through twisted metal and burned shells of cars, some with bloodstained seats.

It was not clear if the blast was a suicide attack, which is the hallmark of al Qaeda, the Sunni Islamist group blamed for targeting civilians in the bloodshed unleashed by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.

Related Coverage

The second attack occurred later in Jurf al-Sakhar, on Baghdad’s southern outskirts, as Iraqi soldiers and members of a local patrol were trying to defuse a roadside bomb.

According to police, one soldier and two patrol members were killed when the bomb exploded. Five soldiers and five guards were wounded.

Baghdad is now a far safer city than it was at the height of sectarian bloodshed between Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority and Shi’ite Arab majority in 2006 and 2007.

The United States has credited its decision to send tens of thousands of extra troops to Iraq in 2007, along with newfound cooperation from Sunni tribal leaders, for that change.

Washington plans to gradually remove its 143,000 troops now in Iraq and restrict military operations as it looks toward a withdrawal deadline at the end of 2011.

Iraqis have begun to resume normal life in Baghdad, cautiously returning to parks and shops and public places that could be vulnerable to suicide attacks.

But Baghdad remains a dangerous city. On December 17, successive bomb blasts in central Baghdad killed 18 people and wounded more than 50.

Editing by Angus MacSwan