- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 11, 2009

BAGHDAD | A double truck bombing tore through the village of a small Shi’ite ethnic minority near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, while nine blasts wracked Baghdad in a wave of violence Monday that killed at least 48 people and wounded more than 250, Iraqi officials said.

The attacks provided a grim example of U.S. military warnings that insurgents are targeting Shi’ites in an effort to reignite the kind of sectarian violence that nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007.

The U.S. military has stressed that despite the rise in attacks, the Shi’ites are showing restraint and not retaliating as they did more than two years ago when a similar series of attacks and bombings provoked a Shi’ite backlash that degenerated into a sectarian slaughter claiming tens of thousands of lives.

The deadliest blast Monday was a double truck bombing in Khazna village, just east of Mosul, home of the Shabak, a small Shi’ite ethnic group in the north.

The two explosives-laden trucks went off nearly simultaneously and less than 500 yards apart, killing at least 28 people and wounding 138, said police and hospital officials.

The U.S. military confirmed that at least 25 were killed.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni insurgents who remain active in Mosul and surrounding areas.

Qusay Abbas, who represents the Shabak minority as a member of the Ninevah provincial council, blamed security forces for failing to protect the area on the eastern outskirts of Mosul, which the United States has called the last stronghold of al Qaeda in Iraq.

A string of nine bombs also went off across Baghdad despite the security gains there that have prompted the Iraqi government to order the removal of nearly all the blast walls in the city over the next 40 days.

The first bomb was hidden in a pile of trash that exploded about 5:50 a.m. near a group of day laborers drinking tea in the religiously mixed neighborhood of Amil, killing at least seven and wounding 46, officials said.

About 10 minutes later a car bomb targeted construction workers in western Baghdad, killed 10 more people and wounded 35, police said.

A few hours later, a roadside bomb exploded in front of a mosque in the primarily Sunni neighborhood of Sadiyah in southwest Baghdad, killing two and wounding 14 others, a police official said.

A minibus exploded in the Shi’ite Shula neighborhood in northwest Baghdad, killing one and wounding three more, said police.

Five other bombs went off in the city throughout the day, wounding 11 other people.

All the officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information.

U.S. commanders have warned of increased violence in advance of January’s national elections, which would likely hurt Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s re-election chances.

The attacks have raised concerns about the ability of Iraqi security forces to contain violence as U.S. combat troops wind down duties as part of a withdrawal plan that would see all U.S. forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

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