- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2007

BAGHDAD — Twin bombings yesterday tore through stalls of vendors selling secondhand clothes and DVDs in a busy Baghdad market catering to Shi’ite Muslims during a religious festival.

A market also was attacked north of the capital, and police said about 100 people died in the renewed campaign blamed on Sunni Muslim insurgents.

The U.S. military also reported the deaths Sunday of two Marines, raising the two-day death toll to 27 in a particularly bloody weekend for U.S. forces in Iraq. A roadside bomb killed a U.S. soldier and wounded four others yesterday in northern Iraq, it said.

The two U.S. Marines were killed Sunday in separate attacks in the Anbar province, an insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, the military said. The deaths came a day after 25 U.S. troops were killed Saturday in the third-deadliest day since the war started in March 2003 — eclipsed only by the one-day toll of 37 U.S. fatalities on Jan. 26, 2005, and 28 on the third day of the U.S. invasion.

The heaviest tolls Saturday came from a Black Hawk helicopter crash in which 12 U.S. soldiers were killed northeast of Baghdad and in an attack on a provincial government building in the Shi’ite holy city of Karbala that left five U.S. troops dead.

Investigators probing the scene found a tube that may have been part of a shoulder-fired weapon used to shoot down the aircraft, officials said.

Yesterday’s first blast, a parked-car bomb, detonated shortly after noon in the Bab al-Sharqi market between Tayaran and Tahrir squares — one of the busiest parts of Baghdad. Seconds later, a suicide car bomber drove into the crowd.

Police estimated that each car was loaded with 220 pounds of explosives.

Deputy Health Minister Hakim al-Zamili said at least 78 persons were killed and 156 were wounded, making it the deadliest attack in two months. Figures provided by police and hospital officials showed that as many as 88 people were killed.

Hours later, a bomb followed by a mortar attack rocked a market in the predominantly Shi’ite town of Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad, killing at least 12 persons and wounding 29, police said.

The twin bombing in Baghdad was the single deadliest attack against civilians in Iraq since Nov. 23, when suspected al Qaeda in Iraq fighters attacked Baghdad’s Sadr City Shi’ite slum with a series of car bombs and mortars that struck in quick succession, killing at least 215 persons.

In other violence, gunmen killed a teacher as she was on her way to work at a girls’ school in the mainly Sunni area of Khadra in western Baghdad, police said, adding that the teacher’s driver was wounded in the drive-by shooting.

Two mortar shells also landed on a primary school in the Sunni stronghold neighborhood of Dora in southern Baghdad, killing a woman waiting for her child and wounding eight students, police said.

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