BAGHDAD — The death toll from carefully coordinated dual bombings in Saddam Hussein’s hometown and a Shiite neighborhood of the capital Sunday rose to 29, officials said on Monday.
Against a backdrop of escalating violence, lawmakers loyal to the new prime minister said he was ready to announce a Cabinet that would exclude his interim predecessor .
Prime Minister-designate Ibrahim al-Jaafari had decided, some members of his political bloc said, to shun further attempts to include members of the party headed by Ayad Allawi, the secular Shiite politician who had served as prime minister as the country prepared for elections Jan. 30.
There has been intense pressure to end the political bickering after a marked recent uptick in insurgent violence nearly three months after the country’s historic Jan. 30 elections, the first democratic balloting in a half century.
Militant violence over the weekend killed dozens, including three Americans.
Coordinated car bombings
In the deadliest attack, a vehicle packed with explosives was driven into a crowd gathered in front of a popular ice cream shop in Baghdad’s western al-Shoulah neighborhood Sunday, police Maj. Mousa Abdul Karim said. Minutes later, as police and residents rushed to help the victims, a second suicide car bomber plowed into the crowd. At least 23 people were killed and 41 wounded, officials at two hospitals said Monday in an update of the casualty numbers.
Shattered glass, pools of blood, and pieces of flesh littered the scene.
Insurgents also attacked U.S. forces. A roadside bomb hit one convoy in eastern Baghdad, killing one American soldier and wounding two, the U.S. military said. Iraqi police said two civilians also were wounded in the attack.
More detained over copter attack
On Sunday, the U.S. military said it had detained four more suspects in the downing of a civilian Mi-8 helicopter on Thursday. All 11 passengers and crew were killed, including a survivor gunned down by insurgents. Ten suspects have been apprehended in all, the military said.
An American sailor was killed Saturday when the Marine convoy he was traveling with was hit by a roadside bomb in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, the military said.
At least 1,567 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
Al-Qaida in Iraq, the country’s most feared militant group, claimed responsibility for the Tikrit and eastern Baghdad attacks in statements posted on militant Web sites. The group also claimed responsibility for a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. patrol near the Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad. The U.S. military said no one was hurt in that attack.
The claims could not be independently verified.
In other developments:
- South of the capital, three insurgents were killed Sunday as the roadside bomb they were trying to plant in the town of Mahawil exploded, said police in nearby Hillah.
- In Pakistan, a government spokesman said a Pakistan embassy official who was kidnapped in Iraq two weeks ago was freed Sunday. The Pakistani government said after his abduction he was in the custody of a previously unknown Islamic militant group, Omar bin al-Khattab, that had demanded a ransom for Javed’s release.
- A car bomb ripped through a crowded Shiite mosque in eastern Baghdad during midday prayers on Friday, killing 12 people and wounding 22.
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