Police: Bombings kill 9, wound at least 33 in Iraq

aleqm5g.jpgBy HAMID AHMED –

BAGHDAD (AP) — A string of bombings killed nine people and wounded at least 33 others on Monday, including a senior Oil Ministry official, authorities said.

Six people died when two bombs — one of them hidden in a trash can — exploded in Tahariyat square in central Baghdad during the morning rush hour. Police said 21 people were wounded, including 10 policemen and two women.

The explosions caused extensive damage to shops lining the square in the predominantly Shiite eastern side of Baghdad.aleqm5h.jpg

Also on Monday, Abdul-Sahib Salman Qutub, one of three senior undersecretaries in the Oil Ministry, suffered minor injuries when a bomb went off at his house as he left for work, ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said. He said Qutub’s driver was seriously injured.

Another bomb exploded around noon near a police patrol in west Baghdad, injuring one policeman and a civilian, police said.

In Baqouba, some 35 miles northeast of the capital, a car bomb exploded in a parking lot across the street from the Diyala provincial council headquarters, killing two policemen and a 10-year-old girl, authorities said.

Nine others — three of them policemen — were wounded in the blast which happened as a conference on defending journalism and freedom of expression took place inside the building. None of the meeting’s participants was injured in the attack.

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

Scattered bombings occur almost daily in Baghdad despite the drop in violence since the Sunni revolt against al-Qaida and the routing of Shiite militias in Baghdad and southern Iraq last spring.aleqm5hv.jpg

Most of the blasts appear to be directed at Iraqi police and soldiers rather than U.S. troops.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pledged to protect Iraq’s Christian minority, which has faced a spate of attacks this month in the northern city of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad. Some 13,000 Christian fled the city this month, although some are slowly returning home.

“We all feel ashamed that such disgusting events take place in Iraq where one man kills another for reasons of identity or religion and ethnic background,” al-Maliki said in a speech at a conference on Islamic-Christian dialogue.

“We will pay all efforts to keep our Christian brothers honored and respected in Iraq for they are an essential component of its society,” he said.