Image: Iraqi man sits outside a destroyed building after a car bomb
Khalil Al-murshidi  /  AFP - Getty Images
An Iraqi man sits on the sidewalk looking at the destruction following a car bomb in the mainly Shiite Shula quarter of Baghdad on Thursday.
updated 5/21/2009 7:36:25 PM ET 2009-05-21T23:36:25

Three American soldiers were killed and nine others wounded Thursday in a bombing attack in Baghdad, the U.S. military said, in a burst of violence only weeks before American combat troops are due to leave Iraqi cities.

The attack was one of a series of bombings to hit Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk, killing at least 25 people and wounding dozens more. It also came a day after a car bomb exploded near a group of restaurants in a Shiite neighborhood of northwest Baghdad , killing 41 people and injuring more than 70.

The deadliest blast Thursday occurred in Baghdad's southern district of Dora when a suicide bomber attacked an American foot patrol in an outdoor market. Army Maj. David Shoupe said three American soldiers and at least four civilians were killed in the blast. Iraqi police and hospital officials put the civilian toll at 12 killed and 25 wounded.

Attacks in civilian areas appeared to be carried out by extremists seeking to rekindle sectarian warfare.

Paramilitaries attacked in Kirkuk
Earlier Thursday, another suicide bomber killed seven U.S.-backed Sunni paramilitaries as they waited in a line to receive salaries at an Iraqi military base in the northern city of Kirkuk.

Police Maj. Salam Zankana said the victims in the Kirkuk attack were members of the local paramilitary Awakening Council — Sunnis who turned against the insurgents and help provide security. Eight others were wounded, he said.

Awakening Council members, also known as Sons of Iraq, have been frequently targeted by al-Qaida and other Sunni groups still fighting U.S. troops and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

Sami Ghayashi, 37, who was among the injured, said the local council members had been waiting three months to receive their salaries.

"While we were waiting at gate talking to one another a big explosion took place," he said from his hospital bed. "I saw several colleagues dead, among them my cousin. I have no idea how this suicide bomber got among us."

Video: Bomb kills three U.S. soldiers in Baghdad Also Thursday, a bomb exploded inside a police station in western Baghdad, killing three policemen and wounding 19 others, an Iraqi police official said. The bomb was hidden inside a trash can and carried into the station, he added.

The official also spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Bursts of violence
Despite a dramatic drop in violence in Iraq, attacks still occur, although with less frequency. Bursts of attacks tend to be followed by periods of calm, only to have the violence spring up again.

The Wednesday attack in the Baghdad neighborhood of Shula was the first major car-bombing in the capital since May 6, when 15 people were killed at a produce market in south Baghdad.

The Shula blast was the deadliest in the city since twin car blasts killed 51 people in another Shiite neighborhood, Sadr City, on April 29.

The failure to stop the bombings adds pressure on the Iraqi government to demonstrate that it can meet security ahead of a June 30 deadline for the United States to remove all combat forces from Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

A day after the Shula bombing, dozens were still being treated at an area hospital for shrapnel wounds and burns. The blast blew out the front of a building housing shops and restaurants.

Funerals
Coffins draped with flags were carried through the streets near the bombing as funerals began for the dead.

U.S. troops are due to leave Iraqi cities under terms of the U.S.-Iraq security agreement which took effect Jan. 1. President Barack Obama plans to remove combat troops from the country by September 2010 with all U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

Under the agreement, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki could ask the United States to delay the cities pullout. However, the issue is politically sensitive in a country worn out by six years of war, and the government has insisted there will be no delay in the withdrawal schedule.

More on  Iraq

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