Bomb kills 25 in Baghdad market
BAGHDAD – A car bomb ripped through a crowded market in a Shiite-dominated neighborhood Tuesday, killing 25 people and injuring 60, in another blow to U.S. and Iraqi efforts to quash sectarian bloodshed in the Iraqi capital.
The victims were among 75 people reported slain Tuesday, including 33 unidentified bodies recovered in Baghdad who were apparent victims of sectarian death squads.
The high toll underscored the challenges facing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki a year after he took office promising to unite Iraqis across ethnic and religious divides, even as pressure mounts in the United States for a speedy exit of American troops from the conflict.
“Our fight against terror is open and long,” al-Maliki said in an anniversary address broadcast on state television. “No one believes this battle will end today or tomorrow.”
Thousands of additional U.S. and Iraqi troops have deployed in the capital since mid-February in an attempt to clear out militants and provide breathing room for Iraq’s leaders to resolve their political divisions.
The crackdown was accompanied by an initial drop in execution-style slayings after radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers off the streets.
But the spectacular bombings that are the signature of Sunni Arab insurgents have persisted, prompting an apparent resurgence of militia activity in some areas – including Amil, scene of Tuesday’s deadly market attack.
Residents said militiamen were once again forcing Sunni residents out of the southwestern neighborhood. And 13 of the bullet-riddled bodies recovered Tuesday were found there, police said.