Group of car bombs kills at least 18, injures 46 in Shiite neighborhood

Several deadly attacks reported in Baghdad

no word on U.S. casualties

June 23, 2005|By Patrick J. McDonnell | Patrick J. McDonnell,LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Violence erupted late yesterday in several districts of this embattled capital, with attacks including three apparently coordinated car bombs that ripped through a largely Shiite neighborhood within a few minutes of each other. Those blasts killed at least 18 people and injured 46, an Interior Ministry official said.

Another car bomb targeted a U.S. military convoy near the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad, the official said, while a running gun battle between insurgents and U.S. forces broke out in the western district of Amariya, a guerrilla stronghold.

At least two civilians were killed and eight injured when a roadside bomb exploded near the site of the firefight, the Interior Ministry official said.

There was no word on U.S. casualties in yesterday's clashes, but the military reported that three soldiers were killed Tuesday by small-arms fire in two incidents near Ramadi, an insurgent bastion about 80 miles west of the capital.

The evening violence capped a day in which a Sunni Arab former judge was assassinated, a Filipino hostage was released after nearly eight months in captivity, and U.S. military authorities confirmed the deaths of three soldiers in volatile western Iraq.

The strikes in Baghdad underscored the insurgents' resolve in the face of recent declarations by U.S. and Iraqi authorities that a crackdown known as Operation Lightning had dealt a major blow to the guerrillas in the capital, putting more than 1,200 suspects in custody.

The largest attack yesterday occurred in Shula, a largely Shiite Muslim district in northwest Baghdad, where three car bombs placed close to each other exploded within a matter of minutes, said the Interior official, who requested anonymity. None was a suicide strike, he said; instead they probably were set off by remote control.

Earlier in the day, the former judge who favored Sunni Arab participation in the political process was assassinated. The killing of Jassim Issawi, a law professor at Baghdad University, is the latest in a string of attacks targeting moderate Sunni Arabs who defy the insurgency and back the fragile political process here.

Issawi was gunned down in his car in the Shula district along with his son, Mohammed, 18, said Mohammed Daini, a member of the National Dialogue Council, a Sunni group that backs participation in the government.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the slaying.

Issawi had been considered as a Sunni Arab delegate on the parliamentary committee drafting a permanent national constitution. The charter is scheduled to be ready by mid-August and put to the voters in a referendum in October.

Throughout Baghdad, meanwhile, residents were buying up bottled water and siphoning from functioning water lines as hundreds of thousands remained without running water for the third day, adding to the general summer misery in a torrid city where electrical blackouts, gasoline lines, car bombs and gun battles are a part of everyday life.

"We stopped cleaning our house and we go to my father-in-law's for a shower," said Korkis Yaqu Korkis, a 39-year-old father of three. "My neighbor had to buy bottled water to put in his air cooler."

U.S. and Iraqi officials said water flows should begin to improve today.

Meanwhile, officials in the Philippines announced the release of Robert Tarongoy, a Filipino accountant who had been taken hostage Nov. 1. Tarongoy was kidnapped along with Roy Hallums, a U.S. citizen, from their office in Baghdad. There was no word on Hallums' fate.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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