Blasts kill 5 in Baghdad market, bakery - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Blasts kill 5 in Baghdad market, bakery

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Posted: Sunday, October 22, 2006 9:34 am | Updated: 5:08 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Bombs ripped through a Baghdad market and a bakery on Sunday as shoppers were stocking up on sweets and other delicacies to celebrate a major Muslim holiday, and at least five people were killed, police said.

The carnage in the Shurja wholesale market, Baghdad's oldest and largest, was the second time in two days that open-air shopping places have been targeted.

On Saturday, at least 19 people were killed and scores were wounded in a bomb and mortar attack on a market in Mahmoudiyah, just south of the capital.

Iraq's main Sunni political bloc, the Iraqi Islamic Party, issued a statement Sunday blaming the Mahdi Army for provoking the violence in that city, 20 miles south of Baghdad.

"We call upon the people of Mahmoudiyah to stay calm in this holy month of Ramadan and not to give others an opportunity," Alaa Makki, a leading party member, said at a news conference in Baghdad.

Iraq has seen a surge in deaths during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, which ends on Sunday for Sunnis. So far this month, an average of about 43 Iraqis have died each day, according to an Associated Press count. That compares to an average daily death toll of about 27 since April 2005.

The count is based on AP reporting and includes civilians, government officials and police and security forces. The actual number is likely higher, as many killings go unreported. The United Nations estimates about 100 Iraqi civilians are killed each day.

October is also on course to be the deadliest month for American service members in two years, a development U.S. officials have blamed in part on the increased vulnerability of American forces during a major two-month security sweep in Baghdad. Seventy-eight U.S. troops have died this month, surpassing the year's previous monthly high of 76 in April.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials sought to play down an unusually candid assessment of the security situation made by a senior U.S. State Department official in an interview Saturday with the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera. Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said the U.S. had shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq, but added that Washington was ready to talk with any Iraqi group except al-Qaida in Iraq to facilitate national reconciliation.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters that Fernandez afterward said he didn't think reports of his comments were an "accurate reflection of what he said." Asked whether the Bush administration believed that history will show a record of arrogance or stupidity in Iraq, McCormack replied "No."

A senior Bush administration official questioned whether the remarks had been translated correctly.

"Those comments obviously don't reflect our position," said the official, who asked not to be identified because a transcript was not then available for review.

Fernandez spoke in fluent Arabic in the interview, which Al-Jazeera said was taped in Washington on Friday. His remarks were translated into English by The Associated Press.

President Bush reviewed Iraq strategy with top war commanders and national security advisers on Friday and Saturday, but indicated little inclination for major changes to an increasingly divisive policy.

"Our goal in Iraq is clear and unchanging: Our goal is victory," Bush said in his weekly radio address Saturday. "What is changing are the tactics we use to achieve that goal."

The White House is under heavy bipartisan, pre-election pressure for a significant re-examination of the president's war plan.

Ahead of the three-day Muslim feasting holiday Eid el-Fitr, which begins Monday and marks the end of Ramadan, Baghdad's Shurja market was especially packed with families shopping for food, clothing and household items.

Three people were killed and eight wounded in an initial bombing, while a second explosion 30 minutes later injured six more, police Lt. Ali Abbas said.

Another bomb hidden beneath a car killed two people and wounded 10 lined up outside the al-Farasha pastry and sweet shop in Baghdad's eastern New Baghdad neighborhood at 11:45 a.m., police Capt. Mohammed Abdul-Ghani said.

About five minutes later, a mortar round crashed into a restaurant about 220 yards away, injuring two civilians and causing extensive damage to the eatery and nearby shops, Abdul-Ghani said.

At least 15 people were killed in other violence around Iraq, including nine dead in clashes between rival Shiite and Sunni tribes south of the capital.

The clashes broke out Saturday night between the Shiite Kufeifan tribe and their Sunni Juheishat rivals in Shujeiriya, apparently over the Juheishat's support for the establishment of a separate Islamic state in the surrounding province.

The bullet-riddled bodies of two men also were found dumped in Baghdad's Baladiate neighborhood, police Capt. Mohamed Abdul-Ghani said. The men had been bound and blindfolded and showed signs of torture, making them the likely victims of sectarian death squads.

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