- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

BAGHDAD (AP) - A string of bombing attacks in Baghdad on Monday killed at least 16 people and wounded 56 others, as the U.S. military reported its first combat death in Iraq in about three weeks.

The first attack occurred in the morning when a car bomb exploded in the center of the capital, killing at least six people and wounding 16, said an Iraqi police official, who described them as mostly day laborers looking for work.

About an hour later at 8:30 a.m., a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol in eastern Baghdad killed two more people and wounded six others, said another police official.

Then just a half hour afterward, two other car bombs exploded in different markets in the largely Shiite eastern parts of the capital, killing a total of eight people and wounding 34, said a security official.

It was not clear if any of the attacks were connected. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

The explosions come amid a period of relative calm in most of Iraq, where violence has dropped by more than 90 percent. But with U.S. forces drawing down their operations under a plan by President Barack Obama to remove combat troops from the country by Aug. 31, 2010, some U.S. military and Iraqi government officials have privately expressed concerns about an increase in violence.

U.S. military officials have repeatedly described recent attacks as last ditch efforts by insurgents to ignite the kind of sectarian strife that saw the country nearly torn apart by a civil war in 2006 and 2007.

The U.S. military also announced Monday that an American soldier was killed in action the day before in Diyala province where insurgents remain active.

It was the first combat death suffered by U.S. forces in Iraq since March 16 when a soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

Iraqi security forces and U.S. troops remain targets of insurgents, whose attacks often kill or injure civilian bystanders.

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Associated Press Writer Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.

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