Alexa

Iraq bombings kill dozens; U.S. troops battle Shiites

Iraq bombings kill dozens; U.S. troops battle Shiites

A string of car bombs and other blasts killed at least 54 Iraqis on Tuesday, including 17 outside Baghdad's most venerated Sunni mosque, while U.S. troops battled Shiite militiamen in Baghdad.
Seven more American soldiers died, the U.S. military said, pushing the December death toll to 90 in one of the bloodiest months for the American troops in Iraq this year. Some 105 troops were killed in October.
U.S. President George W. Bush is weighing whether to send thousands more troops to Iraq, but a senior Democratic senator, Joseph Biden, said Tuesday he would fight such a move.
In the most lethal incident Tuesday, three parked cars exploded one after another in western Baghdad, police and Iraqi media reported. The blasts killed 25 people and wounded 55, one physician said by telephone, as he watched the victims being carried into Yarmouk hospital.
The doctor, who has provided information in the past, spoke on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.
Perhaps the most politically significant attack came in Azamiyah, a Sunni enclave of Iraq's capital, where a car bomb exploded near the Abu Hanifa mosque, according to Iraqi media.
That blast killed 17 and wounded 35, said a physician at the nearby Nuaman Hospital, who has provided information to the Associated Press in the past. He also asked to remain anonymous out of concern for his safety.
The explosion tore through a busy square at the start of the evening rush hour, when merchants were selling clothing and kebabs. The mosque itself was not damaged, witnesses said.
The mosque is Sunni Islam's holiest shrine in Baghdad, and a regular target of Shiite mortar teams. One person was killed in shelling there last month.
Abu Hanifa, who lived in the 8th century, was one of Islam's most important scholars and founded the Hanafi school of Islamic law, embraced by many Muslim cultures.
The mosque has long been associated with Sunni activism. U.S. Marines fought a fierce battle there on April 10, 2003, the day after the iconic Saddam Hussein statue fell in central Baghdad. Saddam and one of his sons were believed to be hiding nearby.
U.S. troops, meanwhile, exchanged fire with Shiite militiamen in east Baghdad, near Sadr City, the stronghold of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
An Associated Press reporter embedded with the soldiers watched the Americans set up roadblocks, occupy homes and engage in gun battles with militia fighters across the border of Sadr City.
U.S. troops crouched on rooftops, hiding behind laundry hanging on a clothesline. Bursts of gunfire ricocheted off rudimentary cement houses.
The gunbattles waned as darkness fell. At least six mortars fell on a U.S. military base nearby, but caused no injuries.
Sadr City is believed to be the chief base of operations for al-Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army.
Pressured by Iraqi politicians in late October, American soldiers dismantled barbed-wire barricades that controlled traffic in and out of the area. Since then they have rarely ventured into the district.
The latest U.S. deaths brought the number of members of the U.S. military killed since the start of the Iraq war in March 2003 to at least 2,978 - five more than the number killed in the September 11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Bush has said the Iraq war is part of the United States' post-September 11 approach to threats abroad. Going on the offense against enemies before they could harm Americans meant removing the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, pursuing members of al-Qaida and seeking Saddam's ouster in Iraq, Bush has said.
There has been no direct evidence of links between Saddam's regime and the September 11 attacks.


Updated : 2021-04-18 14:56 GMT+08:00