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Car bombs hit Iraqi troops ahead of Shiite funeral

 An Iraqi man holds prayer beads while paying condolences after the death of Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim at his party headquarters in Baghdad, I...
 Iraq's Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, left, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, are seen while paying condolences after the death of Shiite ...
 Men pay their condolences after the death of Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim at his party headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009. T...

Iraq al-Hakim

An Iraqi man holds prayer beads while paying condolences after the death of Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim at his party headquarters in Baghdad, I...

Iraq Al Hakim

Iraq's Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, left, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, are seen while paying condolences after the death of Shiite ...

Iraq Al Hakim

Men pay their condolences after the death of Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim at his party headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009. T...

A string of car bombs exploded Wednesday in Baghdad as Iraqi forces tightened security around Shiite mosques, shrines and political party offices in advance of the funeral of a top Shiite leader.
The car bombs targeted primarily Iraqi troops in the city and a northern Baghdad suburb, killing one and wounding 19, police officials said. The violence raised concerns whether Iraqi forces can provide adequate security when thousands converge to mourn the death of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim.
The body of al-Hakim, who died Wednesday in Tehran of lung cancer, was scheduled to be returned to Iraq on Friday.
The funeral procession was expected to start in Baghdad and make stops in several cities in Iraq's southern provinces before burial in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Iraqi Vice President Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi told AP Television News.
The deadliest bombing Thursday struck at about 11 a.m. near a U.S. military base close to Taji, north of Baghdad, killing one and wounding six people, an Iraqi police official said.
A parked car bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol, the official said. It was not immediately known whether the victims were civilians or Iraqi military personnel.
In the early morning hours, three bombs attached to three parked cars exploded nearly simultaneously in Baghdad's primarily Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah, wounding four police officers and two civilians, said another police official.
Another blast targeting a police patrol in Baghdad's eastern Rusafa district, wounding seven people, a third police official said.
All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information to the media.
The blasts are the latest in a string of attacks in the Iraqi capital, which was the scene last week of two devastating suicide truck bombings that targeted the foreign and finance ministries and killed about 100 people.
The U.S. military is closely watching the developments around al-Hakim's death, including how it could impact Iraq's political landscape.
The military has expressed concerns about spikes in violence ahead of January's parliament elections.
"With or without al-Hakim's death, that is always the possibility as we move closer to the elections," Brig. Gen. Stephen Lanza, a U.S. military spokesman said. "There is political posturing that potentially could lead to violence."
Al-Hakim's political bloc, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, became the most influential Shiite political force following Saddam Hussein's collapse, working with American forces in Iraq while keeping its ties to Iran as the Islamic regime expanded its influence with Iraq's Shiite majority.
Though al-Hakim had been grooming his son to take control of the party, it remains unclear if the heir could hold it together.
Condolences were painted on black banners that hung from the main streets in Najaf, and hundreds gathered near al-Hakim's office and his family home to pay respects. Meanwhile, hundreds began arriving in Najaf from other provinces in preparation of the funeral.
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Associated Press Writers Bushra Juhi and Hamid Ahmed contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-08-06 10:08 GMT+08:00