Car bombings in Iraqi capital kill 4, wound 15

1.jpgBy HAMID AHMED –

BAGHDAD (AP) — A bomb exploded in a parked car in a bustling section of downtown Baghdad early Wednesday, killing four people and wounding 15 others, police said, the third consecutive day of morning rush hour blasts in the Iraqi capital.

A half-hour later, a roadside bomb blew up in a Shiite-dominated neighborhood in northern Baghdad, officials said. Seven people, including three policemen, were injured.

Also Wednesday, unidentified gunmen in the volatile northern city of Mosul killed two sisters from a Christian family as they were waiting in front of their house for a ride to work, police said. Their mother was injured in the attack.2.jpg

The Baghdad explosions follow two days of rush hour bombings in the Iraqi capital that killed more than 30 people and wounded some 70 others.

The first attack occurred near al-Nasir Square in central Baghdad — a busy neighborhood of shops, pharmacies and photography stores. Police said three officers were among the wounded.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Despite security gains in recent months that have seen violence drop sharply in the capital, there has been an uptick in small-scale bombings in the past week. Attacks have targeted Iraqi police, army patrols, government officials heading to work or commuters.

The heightened violence comes as U.S. and Iraqi officials try to hammer out a final agreement on a security deal that would keep U.S. troops in Iraq until the end of 2011.3.jpg

The security pact has drawn sharp criticism, especially from within the majority Shiite community. Without an agreement or a new mandate, the U.S. military would have to cease operations in Iraq.

In an attempt to derail the pact, 10 Iraqi insurgent groups have agreed to ramp up attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, an Internet monitoring service.

But it was unclear who is responsible for the recent attacks in Baghdad.

The attack against the Christian family in Mosul — an ethnically mixed city of Kurds, Christians and Arabs — comes after about 13,000 Christians fled the city last month in the face of threats and attacks from extremists. Some families have started returning to the city, although tensions linger.

Mosul has seen a spike in violence in recent months as the ethnic groups vie for power, and U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces continue to wage an intense battle with insurgents in the city.

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