- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 6, 2007

BAGHDAD — Roadside bombs killed eight U.S. troops in separate attacks yesterday in Diyala province and Baghdad, and a car bomb claimed 30 lives in a wholesale food market in a part of the Iraqi capital where sectarian tensions are on the rise.

In all, at least 95 Iraqis were killed or found dead nationwide yesterday, police reported. They included 12 policemen in Samarra, among them the city’s police chief, who died when Sunni insurgents staged a suicide car bombing and other attacks on police headquarters.

The deadliest attack against U.S. forces occurred in Diyala, where six U.S. troops and a European journalist were killed when a massive bomb destroyed their vehicle, the U.S. military said. Two U.S. troops were wounded, the military said.

Two other U.S. troops died yesterday in separate bombings in Baghdad.

The military also reported three other deaths — two Marines in a blast yesterday in Anbar province and a soldier who died yesterday in a noncombat incident in northern Iraq.

Those deaths raised to at least 3,373 the number of U.S. troops who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The market bombing occurred about noon in the Baiyaa district of western Baghdad, shattering vehicles, ripping roofs off nearby buildings and collapsing storefronts. Police said about 80 people were injured.

After the horrific blast, blood pooled on the dirt streets. Hospital officials said two pickup trucks filled with body parts were brought to the morgue.

“I was waiting near a shop to lift some boxes, when I saw the owner of the shop collapse,” said Sattar Hussein, 22, who works in the market. “I helped him inside the shop, but he was already dead. The next thing I felt was pain in my left shoulder and some people rushing me to the hospital.”

Ali Hamid, 25, who owns a shop in the market, said he was selling soft drinks when the blast knocked him unconscious.

“The next thing I remember is some people putting me in a pickup with two dead bodies and rushing me to the hospital,” he said. He called the attack “a terrorist act aimed at creating more sectarian tension and strife.”

No group took responsibility for the attack, which followed accusations by Sunni politicians that Shi’ite militias have resumed their campaign to expel Sunnis from Baiyaa.

Most of the shops in the market were thought to be owned by Shi’ites.

That raised speculation that the bombing was carried out by Sunni hard-liners in reprisal for the purported expulsions, which were thought to have slowed across the capital since the start of the Baghdad security crackdown Feb. 14.

The attacks in Samarra, a Sunni city 60 miles north of Baghdad, began when a suicide car bomber struck the police headquarters. After the blast, dozens of insurgents — some wearing masks and wielding video cameras — opened fire on the building and at least one police checkpoint, witnesses said.

U.S. paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division came under small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire when they rushed to the scene, the U.S. military said. Two Americans were wounded and a vehicle was damaged.

The police chief, Col. Jalil Nahi Hassoun, and 11 other policemen were killed, officials said.

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