A bomb went off in a motorcycle parked in the courtyard of a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, killing 11 people and wounding at least nine — the deadliest of the attacks across Iraq that claimed 40 lives Tuesday.
The bombing in the mixed Tunis neighborhood bore the markings of the sectarian violence tormenting Iraq. The mosque is near the Sunni Arab stronghold of Azamiyah, and Interior Ministry Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said the explosion occurred a couple of hours before the 11 p.m. Baghdad curfew.
An hour later, police said a roadside bomb exploded outside a bakery in southeast Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 12. Five people were killed earlier in the day when a car bomb exploded at the entrance to a police station in Baghdad’s biggest Shiite neighborhood.
Dozens of Iraqis were killed nearly every day in the weeks leading up to formation of the new unity government, which many hope will eventually provide Iraq with enough security to allow the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The swearing in Saturday of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government again brought to the forefront the possibility that some foreign troops could start packing for home within months, an idea quickly set aside by Washington.
“We’re not going to sort of look at our watches and say, oop, time to go,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said.
'When Iraq stands up, we'll stand down'
He was responding to comments made by al-Maliki and visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair that Iraqi security forces would start taking control of some provinces and cities next month, a process a British official suggested could lead to full withdrawal of foreign troops in four years.
“As we’ve said all along, when Iraq stands up, we’ll stand down,” Snow said. “And whether that fits into any convenient time frame, we’re going to find out. The conditions on the ground are going to determine when the United States begins doing troop withdrawals and that sort of thing. And that, and that alone, is going to be the ultimate factor.”
Al-Maliki reportedly spent much of the day at his office in the heavily fortified Green Zone meeting with advisers and discussing candidates for the defense and interior ministries — key posts that did not get permanent appointments when the government took office.
Parliament also did not convene as deputies asked for time to examine the nuts and bolts of running the chamber and the procedures for setting up committees. They decided to convene the 275-member body Sunday. Al-Maliki has also said he would need about a week to choose men for the two security posts, and they would need to be sworn in by parliament.
Sunni Arabs have demanded the Defense Ministry to counterbalance the Shiite-run Interior Ministry, and al-Maliki has said the two posts are so important for the stability of Iraq that he wants to appoint men that would be acceptable to all its communities.
At least 3,886 Iraqis have been killed so far this year in war-related violence and at least 4,239 have been wounded, based on an Associated Press count that may not be complete because the reporting process does not cover the entire country. During May, at least 691 Iraqis were killed. These figures include Iraqi civilians and security forces, but do not include insurgent deaths.
Al-Maliki has vowed to use maximum force against those responsible for the violence, which continued unabated Tuesday.
In Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, gunmen attacked a city councilor and, in the ensuing firefight, two gunmen and a bodyguard were killed, police said.
Insurgents killed by U.S. military
The U.S. military said Tuesday it had killed a number of insurgents during a joint operation with Iraqi soldiers in Samarra. It said Monday’s raid resulted “in the deaths and detention of several terrorist operatives,” but did not provide a number.
It added that “a young girl — a daughter of one of the terrorists — was inadvertently killed by coalition forces” during the raid. The military said it regretted the death and that the unit commander would conduct an investigation.
A car bomb exploded in the late afternoon and killed five people outside a police station in Baghdad’s Sadr City, a sprawling Shiite district in northeast Baghdad, police said.
Earlier, gunmen killed four ironsmiths as they were riding a pickup truck to work in the northern city of Mosul, police said.
In another drive-by shooting, attackers killed three Iraqi day laborers as they drove by a minibus to work at a farm near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Police said the casualties, all Shiites, appeared to be the latest victims of sectarian attacks by minority Sunni Arabs in Diyala province.
A few hours later, gunmen in a car killed three Iraqi men standing near a house in Baqouba, police said. A teacher was also gunned down in northern Kirkuk.
In New Baghdad, a bomb killed two police commandos and three civilians. The attack, which damaged nearby shops and cars, also wounded eight Iraqis: five commandos and three civilians.
A roadside bomb hit a minibus carrying workers to a textile factory in western Baghdad, killing one and wounding three others, said police 1st Lt. Maithem Abdel-Razaq
In western Baghdad, a drive-by shooting killed one of the many vendors who sell cigarettes from small wooden stands alongside streets in the capital. A roadside bomb also damaged one Humvee in a U.S. convoy in Dora, one of Baghdad’s most violent areas, and an Iraqi woman and a child were wounded in gunfire that followed.
A mortar shell landed near the heavily fortified Green Zone, wounding four civilians and damaging three cars, police said. The Green Zone, where Iraq’s government meets and the U.S. and British embassies are based, is a frequent target of such attacks.