June 8, 2009 / 6:04 AM / 10 years ago

Bus terminal bombing kills seven in Baghdad

* Bomb tears through bus terminal

* Four police killed in separate attacks

(Adds quote, details, background)

By Aseel Kami

BAGHDAD, June 8 (Reuters) - A bomb attached to a minibus killed seven people and wounded 24 at a busy bus terminal in southern Baghdad on Monday, police said.

Violence has fallen sharply in Iraq in the past year, and the civilian death toll in May was the lowest since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. But Iraqi and U.S. forces have yet to stamp out a stubborn insurgency.

Monday’s blast took place in the mainly Shi’ite Muslim neighbourhood of Abu Dsheer. Shi’ite areas are often targeted by Sunni Islamist groups who consider Shi’ites heretics.

Such bombings cast doubt on the Iraqi security forces’ ability to stand alone as U.S. combat troops prepare to withdraw from Iraqi cities by the end of this month.

An aide to Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim Moussawi gave a lower death toll for Monday’s explosion.

"It led to the deaths of five people and wounded 18 others, including a number of women and children," he said.

Four policemen were killed in separate attacks late on Sunday, the Iraqi authorities said.

Two were killed and a third wounded by a roadside bomb in Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, then two more died in an ambush in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of the capital.

Analysts say violence may increase ahead of national elections due in January 2010, which could pit Shi’ite groups against each other.

In an interview with Reuters last week, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said U.S. combat troops would leave all Iraqi cities on schedule by the end of this month — including the still violent insurgent holdout of Mosul. [ID:nL21018278]

Some U.S. and Iraqi officials had suggested the pull-out might have to be delayed in the case of Mosul, where al Qaeda and other insurgent groups continue to launch frequent attacks.

All U.S. personnel are due to quit Iraq by the end of 2011 under a security pact between Washington and Baghdad that came into effect at the start of this year. (Additional reporting by Mohammed Abbas; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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