Iraqi Blasts Kill Dozens

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A pair of suicide bombings in Iraq leave more than 70 dead and more than 80 wounded. Iraqi officials also report the arrest of a key leader of the insurgency.


From NPR NEWS this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

Iraq suffered its worse violence in more than a year today, with two separate suicide bombings: one in Bagdad and another northeast of the capital. Over 70 people died and dozens more were wounded. It's not clear the attacks were coordinated, but many Iraqis now worry that the peace and quiet they'd been enjoying is now a thing of the past.

NPR's Quil Lawrence reports from Bagdad.

QUIL LAWRENCE: A lull in violence had allowed the Iraqi capitol to blossom in the past six months with signs of normal life returning to Bagdad. But the month of April has reminded Iraqis of the terrible sectarian strife they'd hoped was behind them. A bomber targeted some of Bagdad's most vulnerable: a derelict building full of squatting Iraqi families made homeless by the violence of the past six years.

(Soundbite of broken glass)

LAWRENCE: Blood-soaked broken glass and ruined relief supplies laid scattered around the scene. One woman screamed out to anyone who would listen.

Unidentified Woman #1: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: We give our lives and our tears to raise our sons up tall, she said, and then that animal comes and slaughters them.

Unidentified Woman #2: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: Another witness watched from a balcony. She says Iraqi police commandos helping to distribute free food were mobbed by the needy families. A figure dressed in a black religious woman's robe approached the police commander and exploded in fire, killing dozens of people including two entire families.

News of an even bigger bomb followed hours later. This one a clear attack on Shiites. Near the town of Mugtadia(ph), 60 miles northeast of Bagdad, another suicide bomber targeted a roadside cafeteria, where more than a dozen tour buses had stopped. Most of the victims were Shiite pilgrims from Iran.

Gunmen and bombers have struck almost daily this month, underscoring deep divisions that remain between Iraq's religious and ethic groups. Still, the U.S. mission here has clearly shifted toward drawing troops down. Today, for the first time, the Pentagon transferred American soldiers directly from Iraq to southern Afghanistan. The troops, about 500 of them, are army engineers who specialize in removing roadside bombs.

Quil Lawrence, NPR NEWS, Bagdad.

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