Car bombs rock Baghdad, Karbala; 16 dead - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Car bombs rock Baghdad, Karbala; 16 dead

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Posted: Sunday, May 7, 2006 8:13 am | Updated: 4:35 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two car bombs rocked northern Baghdad within a span of half an hour on Sunday while another struck a Shiite holy city to the south in attacks that killed at least 16 and wounded dozens, officials said.

The attacks came a day after a British Lynx military helicopter was apparently shot down in the southern city of Basra, triggering unrest as jubilant Iraqis pelted British troops with stones and firebombs.

Britain's Defense Ministry said up to five British personnel were killed in the crash, but it would not be more specific.

The worst strike in Baghdad - a suicide car bombing - occurred at 9:20 a.m., targeting an Iraqi army patrol as it was leaving an army base in the northern neighborhood of Azamiyah near the Ibn al-Haitham College. Ten people were killed and 15 wounded, most Iraqi soldiers, police Lt. Col. Falah al-Mohammedawi said.

That explosion came about 30 minutes after a car bomb elsewhere in the capital missed a police patrol but exploded near the offices of the state-run al-Sabah newspaper, killing a civilian, police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said.

Habib Mohammed Hadi al-Sadr, director of the state-run Iraqi Media Net, said the victim was a newspaper print shop worker and 25 other people were wounded.

"Once again, the despicable, criminal terrorists targeted the press and media represented by al-Sabah newspaper," he said on Iraqi television. "I say to these terrorists that, for the sake of the free word, we will remain undaunted in expressing our thoughts."

A suicide car bomb also struck near the provincial government building in Karbala, 60 miles south of Baghdad and home to one of the two holiest Shiite shrines, killing five people and wounding 19, according to the governor's aide Hassanein al-Zubeidi and police spokesman Rahman Mishawi.

That attack occurred about 9:30 a.m., as workers were returning to their offices after the Islamic weekend, al-Zubeidi said. The bomber got within 300 yards of the heavily fortified government building and set off the explosives in an area of heavy traffic. Eight cars were burned.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, meanwhile, sent a message to British Prime Tony Blair expressing his condolences over the helicopter crash and denouncing the "vile act."

Basra police said the helicopter went down in a vacant lot between two houses after it was hit by a shoulder-fired missile. British soldiers with armored vehicles rushed to the site, only to be pelted with rocks by a crowd of at least 250 people. Authorities said as many as three British armored vehicles were set on fire. Police said four Iraqi adults and a child were killed in the melee.

The crowd chanted "we are all soldiers of al-Sayed," a reference to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an ardent foe of foreign troops in Iraq. The city was largely calm Sunday.

The violence underscored that discontent over the presence of foreign soldiers has been growing among Iraq's majority Shiites who dominate the south even though they have generally steered clear of the Sunni Arab-led insurgency.

Britain's new defense secretary, however, said the unrest in Basra does not mean that the security situation has deteriorated there.

Des Browne also said in a live interview with Sky News television that the investigation into Saturday's crash was ongoing and he would make a statement to Parliament on Monday.

Browne, who was named defense secretary Friday in a Cabinet shuffle, said the clashes were brought under control in a matter of hours and that 200-300 people participated in the violence in a city of some 1.5 million.

"It is not an indication of the state of either the city of Basra or the provinces that we have responsibility for," Browne said. "Day on day, the local forces are coming into control of this area because of the training that we have been able to give them and with our allies."

Browne said he has been in constant contact with British military commanders in Iraq and they have told him that "calm and control had been restored in Basra and that people were going about their ordinary business."

Trouble in the southern region is due in part to the growing influence of al-Sadr, who led two armed uprisings against U.S.-led forces in 2004 and has been an outspoken critic of the U.S.-led foreign military mission.

Separately, the U.S. military announced the arrest of three suspected insurgents who were spotted by a patrol Saturday as they fled the area in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. U.S. troops found a weapons cache.

Two insurgents also were killed in Tikrit Saturday while they were planting a roadside bomb, the military said.

Violence continued unchecked elsewhere in Iraq, with at least 17 bodies found in the capital and surrounding areas since late Saturday.

Fierce clashes also broke out about 1 a.m. between gunmen and police in the southwestern Baghdad neighborhood of Saydiyah. The hour-long fighting left three policemen wounded and three gunmen were arrested.

In other developments Sunday, according to police:

- Gunmen killed a man as he headed to work at a wholesale market in southwestern Baghdad.

- A roadside bomb hit a police patrol in the northern city of Mosul, killing three policemen and wounding another.

- A police sergeant was shot to death in a drive-by shooting as he was leaving home in the mainly Shiite eastern Baghdad neighborhood of Kamaliya.

- A man was arrested as he was setting up a roadside bomb near a police station in Hawija, about 150 miles north of Baghdad.

- The bound and bullet-ridden bodies of eight men between 25 and 30 years old were found by a garbage container near a hospital in eastern Baghdad. The bodies of two other people who were shot to death were found elsewhere in the area.

- Authorities also found four charred bodies, including three brothers, dumped in two separate locations late Saturday in the violent southern Baghdad district of Dora where kidnapping victims frequently turn up murdered.

- The bound bodies of three men were found Saturday night in Madain, southeast of Baghdad.

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