Bombs kill at least 31 in Baghdad

Police are main targets

Iraqi president pleads in U.N. speech for help

September 16, 2005|By Aamer Madhani | Aamer Madhani,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Suicide car bombers struck a southern Baghdad neighborhood three times yesterday, leaving as many as 23 Iraqi police dead while attacks elsewhere killed eight others in the second day of torrid violence in the capital.

The attacks occurred as Iraqi President Jalal Talabani addressed the United Nations and urged world leaders to redouble their efforts to help his country.

Talabani asked the world community to be patient with Iraq as it tries to cobble together a working democracy and fights a determined insurgency. He again appealed to creditor nations to cancel mountainous debt that Iraq accumulated under the former regime.

"Today, Iraq is facing one of the most brutal campaigns of terror at the hands of the forces of darkness," Talabani said.

Days of violence

Yesterday's violence comes after 14 car bombings in and around Baghdad a day earlier that left at least 167 people dead, including 112 killed when a suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle near a gathering point for day laborers looking for work. Nearly 200 people have been killed in two days of bombings and ambushes.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, described the worsening violence as a predictable attempt by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of the militant organization al-Qaida in Iraq, to "derail democracy."

In a message posted on a Web site used by militant groups and attributed to al-Qaida in Iraq, the group said Wednesday's violence was a response to recent joint operations by U.S. and Iraqi forces in Tal Afar to rid that northern city of insurgent elements. In a tape recording purportedly of al-Zarqawi disseminated Wednesday, the speaker says he has launched a war on Iraq's Shiite community.

With a national referendum to decide whether to adopt a constitution to govern Iraq set for Oct. 15, Lynch said insurgents are certain to ramp up the violence in coming weeks.

"It happened again today and it can happen again tomorrow," Lynch said yesterday in Baghdad. "We are convinced that we are going to fight our way to the elections."

Notable events

There have been spikes in violence around other benchmark events throughout the insurgency in Iraq.

Most recently, militants killed hundreds of civilians in attacks over several weeks after Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced his government in late April. In January, before national elections, insurgents launched a barrage of attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces.

Yesterday, the deadliest attacks were suicide car bombings targeting police in the Dora district in southern Baghdad.

In the first, the suicide attacker drove his vehicle into a police checkpoint and killed several officers, according to police.

Later yesterday morning in Dora, two suicide bombers driving separate explosives-laden vehicles launched simultaneous attacks less than a mile apart that appeared to be targeting police. At least three officers were killed, according to police.

An Interior Ministry official put the death count at 23 for the three bombings in Dora.

In a separate incident in Baghdad, a roadside bomb struck a Ministry of Industry bus, killing three people, the Associated Press reported.

Elsewhere in the country, two Iraqi police were killed and four others were injured in the northern city of Kirkuk when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle. U.S. forces and militants also clashed in the western city of Ramadi, AP reported.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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