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At least 23 dead in Baghdad blast

india Updated: Dec 28, 2006 14:45 IST
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Three bombs killed 23 Iraqis in Baghdad on Thursday, and the US military announced the deaths of three American soldiers.

Two bombs exploded shortly after 10 am opposite a park in the South Gate area, killing nine civilians and wounding 43, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

South Gate is often crowded with commuters and shoppers. A bomb planted under a car killed 12 civilians and wounded 26 others near al-Sha'ab stadium in eastern Baghdad, police said.

The bomb exploded among a group of people lining up to buy kerosene. Another blast targeted a police patrol in western Baghdad but missed, killing two civilians instead, police said. Four others were wounded and taken to Yarmouk Hospital.

The US military said three US soldiers died in roadside bombs on Wednesday.

Two soldiers were killed when a bomb exploded near their foot patrol southwest of Baghdad, and one died in a bombing in an eastern section of the Iraqi capital.

With 98 American troops dead so far this month, December is the second-deadliest month of 2006 for US military personnel. A total of 105 troops died in October.

"This has been a difficult month for coalition forces," Maj Gen William Caldwell, a spokesman for US forces in Iraq, said on Wednesday.

"And the month is not over yet," Caldwell said. "Our deepest condolences to those families and friends who've lost someone near and dear to them."

Iraqi forces backed by US troops captured an Al-Qaeda in Iraq terror cell leader south of Baghdad, the US military said.

The suspect, who was detained on Tuesday, is believed responsible for kidnapping two American soldiers from a checkpoint in June, the military said. The soldiers were later found tortured and murdered.

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