Kirkuk Bombing


Despite a massive security operation in the capital and appeals from Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for an end to sectarian fighting, a wave of bomb attacks and shootings killed nearly three dozen people in Kirkuk on Sunday.

Al-Maliki insisted bloodshed in Iraq was decreasing and that his government was making progress in efforts to combat sectarian clashes between Shiites and Sunnis, and attacks by insurgents.

But the killings persisted, with at least 35 people dead across the country.

Two back-to-back suicide car bombings in the northern city of Kirkuk, one of which targeted the house of a cousin of Iraq's President Jalal Talabani, killed nine people and wounded 22 on Sunday evening, hours after an earlier suicide car bomb killed one person and wounded 16.

In Basra, Iraq's second largest city, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, a motorcycle bomb at an open-air night market killed four people and wounded 15, the governor's office said.

One man at the market said he had seen the bomber stop and talk to someone, and "as soon as he left, there was the explosion." The witness, who did not give his name, complained that it took the police an hour to show up after the blast.

In downtown Baghdad, a bomb in a white bus exploded outside the Palestine Hotel, killing nine people and wounding 16, while a car bomb outside the offices of a government-run newspaper left three dead and at least 29 wounded, police and witnesses said.

Security camera video from the hotel showed the vehicle quickly pull in front of the fortified building and immediately going up in a cloud of smoke and dust. People are then seen trying to pull victims away from the blast scene.

The Baghdad car bombs came as the US military said Iraqi and coalition forces were expanding a security operation in the capital that aims to crack down on violence neighborhood by neighborhood.

Security forces were to conduct a cordon and search operation of all the buildings in the Sunni district of Azamiyah in north Baghdad, the US military command said in a statement.

The US military command said two US soldiers were killed, one by small arms fire in eastern Baghdad on Sunday afternoon, and the other on Saturday night when the vehicle he was traveling in was hit by a roadside bomb southeast of the capital.

Earlier on Sunday, another six people were killed when a bomb exploded in the town of al-Khalis, on the outskirts of Baqouba north of Baghdad.

On Saturday a car bomb exploded outside a Shiite mosque in Al-Haswa, 70 km (50 miles) south of Baghdad, killing five people and wounding seven others, medical staff at Iskandariyah hospital said.

The blast destroyed several shops nearby.

Drive-by shootings also killed one person in Mosul on Sunday, 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, and another three in Dujail, 80 kilometers (50 miles) miles north of the capital, police in both cities said.

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