- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2008

BAGHDAD | A series of bomb attacks Sunday in Iraq, most of them in the capital, Baghdad, which has been rocked by violence in the past week, killed 15 people and wounded at least 38, witnesses and officials said.

In the deadliest attack, a small truck parked near the passport office on Magreb Street in the north of Baghdad killed 12 people and wounded 23, sources in the Defense and Interior ministries said.

Several people suffered burns as flames from the powerful blast swept skywards, damaging buildings, they said.

Bloodstains were still visible on the busy commercial street as dozens of Iraqi soldiers set about clearing debris as far as 100 yards from the seat of the blast, an Agence France-Presse photographer saw.

He was prevented by soldiers from taking pictures.

A U.S. Army captain, whose platoon was offering support for the Iraqi police, said the attack bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

“It was a safe and stable neighborhood,” he said, adding that typically al Qaeda sought to destabilize areas believed to be secure.

Meanwhile, on Palestine Street in central Baghdad, a roadside bomb targeting a passing police patrol wounded nine people, including six civilians.

A third attack thought to have targeted government vehicles wounded two civilians in the southeastern neighborhood of Al-Ghadir.

Last Monday, three suicide bombers thought to be women blew themselves up among Shi’ite pilgrims in the capital, killing at least 25 and wounding around 75.

In other violence, 62 miles south of the Iraqi capital in Hilla, a car bomb killed three people and wounded four at an outdoor coffee shop, a city police officer, Hader al-Khafadji, told Agence France-Presse.

Since the height of sectarian violence in 2006 and the first half of last year the violence has tapered off, albeit slowly.

The toll of Iraqi civilians killed nationwide fell to 387 last month, compared with 448 in June and 504 in May.

The U.S. death toll has also dropped. In July, 12 American soldiers were killed in Iraq, the lowest monthly toll since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to unseat dictator Saddam Hussein.

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