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Bombings in Baghdad Area Claim at Least 24 Lives

A series of bombings in the Baghdad area have killed at least 24 people. The attacks follow a sensational suicide truck bombing Saturday in a Turkmen village north of the capital that killed more than 100 people. Officials said Sunday the death toll from the Amrli attack could be as high as 130. From northern Iraq, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Terrorists set off a wave of bombings in the capital, killing civilians and Iraqi security forces.

Near simultaneous blasts rocked the central Karrada district killing and injuring several people. A separate attack on a Baghdad market also claimed a number of victims.

On the city's outskirts, a bomb struck a group of new Iraqi military recruits traveling in a truck, killing more than a dozen of them.

The attacks occurred as the residents of the devastated farming town of Amrli began burying dozens of their dead, after a suicide truck-bomber detonated his explosives in a crowded market in the ethnic-Turkmen town. The force of the blast collapsed shops and mud-brick homes, trapping many under the rubble.

Officials said Sunday as many as 130 people may have died in the attack. More than 250 were injured.

U.S. military officials have warned that they expect Sunni extremists to attempt sensational attacks before an American progress report due in September on the surge of U.S. forces into Baghdad and other areas to quell sectarian violence.

Meanwhile, the political squabbling that has paralyzed the government continued.

A spokesman for Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr responded to criticism from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in which he said criminal elements, including Saddam Hussein loyalists, had infiltrated the Sadr movement. Mr. Maliki warned that Sadrist leaders must take "decisive and clear" action to ensure they are not blamed for violence carried out in their group's name.

In a telephone interview with Sharqiyah television, Sadr spokesman Salah al-Ubeidi denounced Maliki's statement as one in a series of antagonistic acts by the occupation against the Sadr movement.

He also warned that Mr. Maliki - who owes much of his support to Sadr supporters - might not last much longer in office.

Recently, Iraqi and U.S. forces have stepped up raids on Sadr militia strongholds in Baghdad, while in the south the militia has fought street battles with Iraqi and British forces.

One of the people caught in these raids was Imam Jassem al-Hasnawe who was arrested Thursday in Baghdad.

Thousands of his supporters took to the streets in southern Baghdad, calling for his release and that of others caught in the raids.