- The Washington Times - Monday, March 5, 2007

BAGHDAD (AP) — A suicide car bomber shattered a relative lull in Baghdad’s violence today, killing at least 28 people in a blast that touched off raging fires and a blizzard of bloodstained paper from a popular book market.

It was the largest bombing in the capital in three days and came on the heels of a major push by nearly 1,200 U.S. and Iraqi troops into Sadr City, a Shi’ite militia stronghold and base for fighters loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Iraqi troops in Sadr City set up checkpoints and took a far more visible presence than Americans, who led the push into the area Sunday. The move was an apparent attempt to avoid Shi’ite anger in a place of past street battles with U.S. forces.

However, pressure on Sheik al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia continued on other fronts.

In the southern city of Karbala, the home of a Mahdi Army leader was raided in a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation, the U.S. military said.

Sheik al-Sadr’s followers also warned the Iraqi government that they would not relinquish Cabinet posts unless other members of the ruling coalition do the same [-] setting the stage for a major political battle as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki prepares to reshuffle his administration.

Meanwhile, a British-Iraqi raid on a police intelligence headquarters in southern Iraq on Sunday found 30 prisoners with signs of torture, and a purported death squad leader was captured.

The raid took place at the National Iraqi Intelligence Agency building in Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city 340 miles southeast of Baghdad. Inside, troops discovered the prisoners, including one woman and two children, with signs of torture and abuse, the British military said in a statement. It did not elaborate.

The Iraqi government criticized the raid and today began an investigation.

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