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Blasts kill over 40 despite security drive in Iraq

Massive killings continue in Baghdad where rebels seem intent on defying a major US-backed security clampdown, now in its fourth week.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2006 13:35 IST

More than 40 people were killed in bomb attacks in Iraq on Wednesday morning, including 24 at a busy market in Baghdad where insurgents seem intent on defying a major US-backed security clampdown now in its fourth week.

A further 35 people were wounded in the attack on the Shorja wholesale market in downtown, police said.

A bomb in nearby Karrada killed two people around the same time. Several attacks in recent days have shattered a relative calm this past month.

Three hours earlier, a bomb apparently left on a parked bicycle blasted a crowd of young Iraqi men outside an army recruiting office, killing 12 people and wounding 38.

Hilla provincial police spokesman Captain Muthanna al-Mamuri said the bicycle appeared to have been left early in the morning, laden with an explosive package, close to the office in the centre of Hilla, 100 km south of Baghdad.

It went off around 8 am, when a crowd had gathered. It followed several days of heavy bloodshed outside the capital, where US and Iraq troops have mounted a major security crackdown.

Recruitment centres for the Iraqi army and police, key elements of Washington's strategy for pulling out its own troops, have been frequent targets for insurgents from the Sunni Arab minority, including Al-Qaeda Islamists, who oppose the rise of the Shi'ite Muslim majority in US-backed elections.

The mainly Shi'ite city of Hilla, close to the site of ancient Babylon, is surrounded by Sunni rural areas.

It has seen some of the deadliest sectarian bomb attacks over the past two years, including the bloodiest single blast in Iraq, when 125 people, many of them police recruits, were killed by a suicide car bomber in February 2005.

Despite the danger, young men continue to queue up at police and army recruitment centres, desperate for employment.

A large group of men responding to a newspaper advert for army recruits rioted outside the governor's office in Samawa, 270 km south of Baghdad, after being told to come back at the weekend, a witness said.

The witness said the police initially fired warning shots and then shot into the crowd after they began throwing rocks at the building, killing one man and wounding five.

Three policemen were also injured in the riot.

First Published: Aug 30, 2006 13:35 IST