- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2008

BAGHDAD (AP) — Rockets and mortars pounded Baghdad’s U.S.-protected Green Zone yesterday, and a suicide car bomber struck an Iraqi army post in the northern city of Mosul in a surge of attacks that killed more than 50 people nationwide.

The latest violence underscored the fragile security situation and the resilience of both Sunni and Shi’ite extremist groups as the war enters its sixth year and the U.S. death toll in the conflict approaches 4,000.

The deadliest attack of the day was in Mosul, when a suicide driver slammed his vehicle through a security checkpoint in a hail of gunfire and detonated his explosives in front of an Iraqi headquarters building, killing 13 Iraqi soldiers and injuring 42 other persons, police said.

Iraqi guards opened fire on the vehicle but couldn’t stop it because the windshield had been bulletproofed, said an Iraqi army officer. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not supposed to release the information.

Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, has been described as the last major urban area where the Sunni extremist al Qaeda group maintains a significant presence.

In Baghdad, rockets and mortars began slamming into the Green Zone about sunrise, and scattered attacks persisted throughout the day, sending plumes of smoke rising over the heavily guarded district in the heart of the capital.

U.S. spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo said four persons were wounded in the Green Zone.

Also in the capital, seven persons were killed and 14 wounded in a suicide car bombing yesterday in the Shi’ite area of Shula in the capital, police reported.

Gunmen opened fire on passengers waiting for buses in a predominantly Shi’ite area in southeastern Baghdad, killing at least seven men and wounding 16 persons, including women and children, according to police.

Police also found the bullet-riddled bodies of 12 persons — six in Baghdad, four in Mosul and two in Kut, scene of clashes between government troops and Shi’ite militiamen.

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