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Death Toll in Baghdad Bombings Climbs as US Military Plans Withdrawal


The death toll from twin bombings in Baghdad on Thursday has risen to 68 with at least 120 others wounded, including women and children. The attack was one of the deadliest this year and came as the U.S. military announced plans to withdraw 2,000 troops from Baghdad. Daniel Schearf reports from the northern Iraqi city of Irbil.

Funerals were held Friday for many of those killed in the attack.

Iraqi police say the deadly Thursday night bombings were coordinated to inflict maximum civilian casualties.

They say terrorists detonated a bomb planted near a busy market in the Karrada neighborhood of Baghdad, killing several people. After a crowd gathered to help the wounded, a suicide bomber detonated killing dozens more, including a policeman.

Lieutenant Colonial Steve Stover is a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

"We have a good idea who was behind it," he said. "We know it was an al-Qaida cell. We have the name of the individual and we're basically going to go out and pursue him until we hunt him down and bring him to justice."

The bombings were the latest in a string of deadly attacks that have reversed a trend of declining levels of violence in Iraq.

The number of people killed in Iraq had decreased every month since June, after 30,000 more U.S. troops arrived in the country.

But Iraq's government last week said the number of civilians killed had jumped by a third since January after several deadly bombings.

Last month a suicide bomber killed more than 63 Shiite pilgrims on their way to a religious gathering. In early February twin bombings in Baghdad pet markets killed about 100 people.

Stover says despite the attacks the U.S. military still plans to withdraw at least 2,000 troops from Baghdad.

"We have brigades that are leaving," he added. "They are planned withdrawals. We know that the Iraqi security forces are growing not only in capacity, but in capability."

Stover says the number of Iraqi security troops in Baghdad has almost doubled since 2005 and thousands more Iraqi police are scheduled to be deployed.

The U.S. has always maintained it will withdraw troops from Iraq as Iraqi forces become larger and more capable.

The U.S. military says it is planning to withdraw thousands more troops from Iraq by July.

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