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December 13, 2006
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Bomb at bus stop kills 11 in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A car bomb exploded near a crowded bus stop in eastern Baghdad during morning rush hour on Wednesday, killing 11 people and wounding 27 in a mostly Shiite area, police said.

The blast in Kamaliyah neighborhood at 8:45 a.m. also occurred about 50 yards from the Shiite al-Rasoul mosque but did not damage the small building, said police Capt. Mohammed Abdul-Ghani and police Maj. Mahir Hamad.

"A Volkswagen car exploded right near the bus stop, hitting a group of people, including women and children who were waiting to take a bus to a fruit and vegetable market," said one witness, Abu Haider al-Kaabi.

The poor area of Baghdad appeared to be the latest target of widespread sectarian violence in the capital involving Sunni Arabs and Shiites. On Nov. 23, suspected Sunni insurgents carried out the deadliest single attack of the Iraq war by using bombs and mortars to kill 215 people in the capital's Shiite slum of Sadr City.

Two other car bombs exploded in the mostly Shiite area of New Baghdad and another one in the largely Sunni area of Yamouk, killing a total of four people and wounding 16, police said.

In other attacks in Iraq, men armed with guns and explosives destroyed a small Shiite shrine in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, early Wednesday, causing no injuries, and gunmen killed a nine-member Shiite family in an attack on their house in Hasna village south of the capital, police said.

Iraqi troops also opened fire on two suicide car bombers who drove up to the headquarters of the Iraqi army's 2nd Battalion near the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk, but the attackers set off their explosions, killing four soldiers and wounding 10, said Iraqi Maj. Gen. Anwar Mohammed Amin. The base protects the area's oil pipelines.

In Musayyib, 40 miles south of Baghdad, three roadside bombs missed a police patrol, killing one civilian and wounding one, and damaging a nearby municipal council building, police said.

For several months, U.S. and Iraqi officials have been discussing proposals to transfer responsibility of security in cities such as Baghdad from American forces to newly trained Iraqi police and soldiers.

On Oct. 28, U.S. President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki outlined three goals: speeding up the training of Iraq's security forces; moving ahead with Iraqi control of its forces; and making the Iraqi government responsible for the country's security.

On Dec. 5, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the country's top American military spokesman, told reporters in Baghdad that the U.S. military expects all of Iraq to be under the control of Iraqi forces by mid-2007. He said this is part of an accelerated timetable discussed by Bush and al-Maliki during their summit in Jordan late last month.

In an interview with the U.S. television network ABC the day of the summit, al-Maliki said Iraqi forces would be ready. "I can tell you that by next June, our forces will take over the security of the country," he said.

The U.S. maintains about 140,000 troops in Iraq and is now considering changing its strategic course in the country, which the U.S.-led coalition invaded in March 2003.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Iraq's government has presented the United States with a plan that calls for Iraqi troops to assume primary responsibility for security in the city of Baghdad by March.

Caldwell said the plan was being discussed closely by Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, the American ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the Iraqi leadership.

"Obviously we all believe that to find solutions for the Iraqi problems it's going to take Iraqi solutions," Caldwell told reporters in Baghdad. "And so that's in fact what they've done, they've drawn up a plan."

But Caldwell acknowledged the difficulties in restoring calm in Baghdad and said the real solution was for Iraqi politicians to overcome their differences.

"We are deeply concerned about what we are seeing right now," he said. "We are seeing unacceptable levels of violence here in Baghdad, but we are working very diligently with the government to address that."

In an interview with CNN-TV on Wednesday the official quoted in The New York Times article, Iraqi national security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie, said Baghdad's sectarian violence is between Sunni and Shiite extremists and that U.S. forces "should not be caught in the middle."

He said, "This is a job for the Iraqi security forces."

The explosion in Kamaliyah occurred at a bus stop that only included a sign at the side of a road. It killed 11 civilians and wounded 27, the police said. It also was powerful enough to damage the front of nearby stores and destroy three parked cars.

As ambulances and Iraqi police raced to the scene, Iraqi and U.S. soldiers briefly closed off the area.

Later, people were allowed to search the street to see if the casualties included their relatives. The wreckage of the car bomb and other damaged vehicles also were towed from the scene. Young men swept debris from the street.

"I was working at a construction site nearby when the bomb exploded. My friends and I raced to the bus stop and took six of the wounded people to a nearby hospital in our cars," said Mohammed Saadoun, 34. He said they also helped to remove three charred bodies from the scene.

On April 16, a bomb hidden in a shopping bag on a minibus exploded near the al-Rasoul mosque, killing at least three passengers and wounding six, police said.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 13, 2006 02:02PM Published Dec 13, 2006 02:02PM Copyright 2006 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.