Dozens Killed in String of Bombings in Iraq

Baghdad residents were greeted Sunday morning by a series of explosions: car bombs, roadside bombs and mortars. The attacks left at least two dozen people dead as Iraq struggles to finalize the makeup of its new government.

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LIANE HANSON, host:

Sunday morning marks the beginning of the workweek in Iraq, and today Baghdad residents were greeted by a series of explosions.

Car bombs, roadside bombs and mortars left at least two dozen people dead. To the north of the capital, bombs damaged small Shiite shrines, sparking fears of more sectarian killings.

The latest violence comes as Iraqi politicians struggle to finalize the makeup of the country's new government. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Baghdad.

PETER KENYON reporting:

There was never really any doubt that insurgents would be targeting Iraqis trying to put together a unity government under Prime Minister designate Nuri al-Malaki, but there was more confirmation of that today.

Motorcades belonging to Iraq's foreign and oil ministers were attacked. The ministers weren't harmed, but several of their bodyguards were killed or wounded. Ordinary Iraqis also perished today, at least 14 of them in bomb attacks near the Baghdad airport, according to the U.S. military.

In villages near Bakuba, a turbulent city some 40 miles north of Baghdad, several small Shiite shrines were bombed. Shiite clerics warned that insurgents were trying to spark more violence and instability. In February, when the renowned Golden Dome Mosque in Samarra was bombed, sectarian killings rose sharply, claiming both Sunnis and Shiites as their victims.

The daily body count at the main Baghdad morgue can be mind-numbing. An exhausted morgue official said today that between 1 and 7 a.m. a total of 70 bodies were delivered, 57 of them unidentified. He said the majority showed signs of torture, and most of them had been shot execution style.

Officials say few of these murders are being investigated effectively.

The White House is hoping that a new Iraqi government will begin to reign in the violence, but officials warn that if anything, bloodshed is likely to increase as the new cabinet is unveiled, hopefully this week.

Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Baghdad.

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