msnbc.com news services
updated 10/27/2011 2:22:40 PM ET 2011-10-27T18:22:40

A twin bombing killed 18 people and wounded 37 Thursday in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad — the deadliest attack to rock Iraq since President Barack Obama declared the full withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of the year.

Two police officials said the first explosion, at a music store shortly after 7 p.m., killed two people. The second bomb struck four minutes later, as rescue workers and others rushed to the scene, the officials said.

The first bomb targeted a police patrol in the Iraqi capital's Ur district and the second exploded when emergency services were evacuating the wounded, the sources said.

In recent days militants have carried out a campaign against Baghdad's police force, many of the attacks have been aimed at largely unarmed traffic police officers.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Slideshow: US troops leave Iraq (on this page)

"I stood outside my shop and saw burning cars and dead bodies on the ground," said Ahmed Jalil, 27, a grocery owner near the attack site in Ur, a Shiite neighborhood in northeast Baghdad. "The situation was miserable and I could see wounded people being loaded on police pickups," he said.

"Today's attack proves that the government's allegations that the security is under control are nothing but baseless allegations and that the tens of checkpoints scattered all over the capital are useless and a waste of resources," Jalil said.

Experts have predicted an increase in violence as the Dec. 31 date for U.S. troops to leave the country approaches. The deadline is part of a 2008 security agreement between Baghdad and Washington.

The Obama administration had considered leaving a few thousand troops in Iraq beyond the end of the year to help maintain security and curb growing Iranian political influence in Baghdad. But Iraqi and U.S. officials failed to come up with an agreement to protect American military personnel who stayed from legal prosecution.

Last week, Obama announced that all troops would withdraw on time as initially planned.

There are currently 39,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photos: 2010 drawdown

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  1. U.S. Army Stryker armored vehicles cross the border from Iraq into Kuwait on Wednesday, Aug. 18. The U.S. Army's 4th Stryker Brigade is the last combat unit to leave Iraq as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces. President Barack Obama had set a goal of reducing the number of American troops in Iraq to 50,000 troops by Sept. 1. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A U.S. soldier waves from his Stryker armored vehicle after crossing the border into Kuwait. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A soldier dismantles a machine gun mounted on his Stryker immediately after crossing the border on Aug. 16. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. U.S. Army soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade race toward the border on Aug. 18. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Stryker armored vehicles through southern Iraq en route to Kuwait on Aug. 15. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Soldiers from C Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division gather before the convoy to Kuwait. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A member of the U.S. Army's 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, carries an American flag after a departure ceremony at Forward Operating Base Constitution in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, on Aug. 7. (Moises Saman / The New York Times via Redux Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. The U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division band plays during a ceremony marking the formal withdrawal from the last checkpoints they helped staff in the Green Zone of Baghdad on June 1. (Holly Pickett / Redux Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. U.S. military Humvees are ready to be shipped out of Iraq at a staging yard at Camp Victory on July 6 in Baghdad. Everything from helicopters to printer cartridges are being wrapped and stamped and shipped out of Iraq in one of the most monumental withdrawal operations the American military has ever carried out. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Workers sort through broken computer equipment that will be destroyed at a demilitarizing facility for unusable, un-transportable U.S. military equipment at Camp Victory on June 24 in Baghdad. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Workers operate machinery that destroys damaged concrete blast walls at the U.S. Joint Base Balad, north of Baghdad, on July 3. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Soldiers from 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, clear their weapons before boarding a military aircraft in Baghdad, as they begin their journey home on Aug. 13. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Soldiers from 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, board a military aircraft in Baghdad on Aug 13. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. An Air Force airman talks on a radio as Army soldiers from 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division prepare to board a military aircraft in Baghdad on Aug 13. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Soldiers from 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, are seen on board a military aircraft in Baghdad on Aug. 13, as they begin their journey home. (Maya Alleruzzo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. U.S. Army soldiers carry the flag-draped transfer case containing the remains of a U.S. soldier out of a C-17 during a dignified transfer on the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base on Aug. 17 in Dover, Del. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image:
    Maya Alleruzzo / AP
    Above: Slideshow (16) US troops leave Iraq - 2010 drawdown
  2. Image:
    Khalid Mohammed / AP
    Slideshow (5) US troops leave Iraq - 2011 drawdown

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