Bomb blasts in Iraq kill at least 17

Fri, Oct 14, 2011, 01:00

Two explosions in a Shia neighbourhood of eastern Baghdad killed 17 people and wounded around 50 others.

Yesterday’s blasts in the Sadr City neighbourhood, coming a day after attacks across the capital killed 25 people, served as a reminder of the lengths to which Sunni militants are trying to go in order to reignite sectarian tensions as American forces prepare to go home.

A bomb went off near a house in a narrow alley in Sadr City, said two police officials.

Then, minutes later, as people were gathered at the site of the blast, another bomb went off. All 17 victims were killed in the second, more powerful explosion.

Two of the dead were women, and two were police officers. A barber in Sadr City, Hassan Rahim, said he was cutting a customer’s hair when he heard the first explosion.

“We rushed outside the shop and we saw fire and smoke near the houses,” he said.

Reflecting just how much such violence has become a part of Iraqis’ daily lives, Mr Rahim went back inside his shop to continue working, then the second blast went off.

“I saw dead people on the ground and several burning cars. We helped take the wounded to the hospital until the arrival of the ambulances,” he said.

“The security forces should do a better job, otherwise we expect more attacks in Sadr city.

More people here are having the feeling that the security forces cannot protect people.”.

Violence has ebbed across Iraq, but deadly bombings and shootings still occur almost daily as US troops prepare to leave by the end of the year.

American and US officials have been negotiating over whether to have a small American military presence stay behind into next year to train Iraqi forces, but the two sides have been stuck on what type of legal protections if any to provide American forces who remain.

As time goes by, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that any of the roughly 41,000 American forces still in Iraq will stay behind, although there will be a massive American diplomatic presence.

One of the key concerns is whether Iraqi security forces are able to protect the country after they lose American military support in key areas such as intelligence gathering and counter-insurgency assistance.

Yesterday’s bomb blasts were the third major attack this week.

In addition to the wave of bombings on Wednesday, a series of explosions on Monday targeting security officials killed 10 people in Baghdad.