MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
Thunderous blasts from at least three car bombs echoed across Baghdad today. One struck a fuel station, enveloping at least 50 people in a fireball. Another bomb hit a popular ice cream parlor, leaving at least 60 dead and wounded. In a few minutes, we'll hear how humanitarian groups are working in Iraq amid the violence.
First, NPR's Jamie Tarabay reports from Baghdad that some are linking today's bombings to the withdrawal of the country's largest Sunni political bloc from the government.
JAMIE TARABAY: With electricity short and temperatures rising, there's little consolation for Iraqis these days beyond gathering at ice cream parlors for fleeting moments of cold relief. The ice cream parlor in Karada is one of Baghdad's most popular. Families sit at benches outside and feast on enormous sundaes and ice cream cones.
The Interior Ministry said at least 20 Iraqis died in today's bombing there. There was at least one other explosion in the center of the city, killing at least one person and wounding six others.
An official at the Shiite-controlled Interior Ministry suggested that today's explosions might have been connected to the announcement that the country's largest Sunni-Arab political bloc was withdrawing from government. It isn't the first time the Sunni Accordance Front has declared its intention to resign from government and it's not the only political party to have abandoned Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's National Unity Coalition. The Sunni group said it decided to pull out after Maliki failed to address demand that included the freeing of security detainees not charged with specific crimes and the disbanding of Shiite militias.
The group's 44 parliamentarians will remain in a legislature, which has just gone into recess. The parliament broke for a month-long summer vacation despite pressure from the U.S. on key legislation considered necessary to promote reconciliation among the country's sectarian groups.
The U.S. military, meanwhile, announced the death of four more soldiers, all occurred on Tuesday in east in Baghdad, the stronghold of Shiite militias. One soldier was killed by small arms fire, three others were killed in a single incident when an armor-piercing bomb struck their patrol.
Jamie Tarabay, NPR News, Baghdad.
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