Suicide Attack In Western Baghdad Kills 28
Wednesday, 11 March 2009

A suicide bomber killed at least 28 people and wounded 28 during a tour by tribal leaders and security officials of a crowded market in western Baghdad on Tuesday, officials said.

Major-General Qassim Moussawi said the bombing, the second major attack in the Iraqi capital in three days, took place in the Abu Ghraib district.

First Lieutenant Ahmed Mahmoud, a police official in Abu Ghraib, said the explosion occurred just as a government convoy passed through the market area, killing 30 people, including schoolchildren and security officials, and wounding 29 others.

Another police source said the dignitaries were leaving a reconciliation meeting at Abu Ghraib's municipal headquarters.

Al-Baghdadiya, an independent television station, said two of its journalists were killed in the attack. A source at the main hospital in western Baghdad said a journalist with al-Iraqiya state television was also wounded.

Al-Iraqiya television station showed footage of bodies lying on the street following the attack.

While violence has dropped sharply in Iraq since the height of the sectarian and insurgent bloodshed unleashed by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, insurgents continue to stage regular attacks, especially in the volatile northern city of Mosul.

Tuesday, a car bomb killed two civilians and wounded six people in al-Hamdaniya, just east of Mosul.

The security improvement has been particularly effective in Baghdad, where Iraqis are cautiously resuming a more normal life. Yet violence continues to strike there too. Sunday, a suicide bomber killed 28 people at the main police academy.

The latest attack comes days after the United States said it would reduce its troop force of around 140,000 ahead of a full withdrawal date by the end of 2011, raising questions about whether local forces will be ready to prevent Iraq sliding back into large-scale bloodshed.

Reconciliation among rival political factions is proving even more difficult than combating insurgents. Many factions remain mutually suspicious and hostile after six years of sectarian killing between Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, dominant under Saddam Hussein, and its Shi'ite majority.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite whose political fortunes were strengthened following recent local polls, has stepped up calls for reconciliation in the past few days.


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