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Dozens die in attacks near Baghdad mosques

Fri., Oct. 3, 2008

BAGHDAD – Bombs and gunfire ripped through the end of Ramadan here on Thursday, killing at least 24 worshipers and Iraqi soldiers near two Shiite mosques in a worrisome reminder that the drop in violence in recent months can be shattered by successive explosions.

The blasts struck in the early morning of Eid al-Fitr, the feast that ends the holy month of fasting. Fourteen people, including three soldiers, were killed and 28 injured when a sedan blew up outside a mosque in the Zafaraniya neighborhood of southeastern Baghdad. A man wearing a bomb vest wrestled with a security guard before blowing himself up outside the Rasoul mosque in New Baghdad, killing 10 and injuring nine people.

In other attacks around the country, six people, including two children, were killed in Diyala province when gunmen opened fire on a mini-bus in Kesaba village. An Interior Ministry worker was shot and killed in the southern city of Hillah.

Violence in Iraq has fallen significantly in recent months, but Thursday’s bloodshed in Baghdad, which appeared to have been carried out by Sunni militants, was the second day of powerful sectarian bombings in less than a week. On Sunday, three blasts in Baghdad killed at least 31 people and injured dozens.

A recent Pentagon report found that civilian deaths across the country were down nearly 80 percent from June to August compared with the same period last year. But suicide bombers and assassination squads still evade the barbed wire and blast walls.

The Pentagon report concluded that Iraq’s progress, spurred in part by the U.S. military surge and the cooperation of former Sunni militias, is “reversible and uneven.”


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