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Twin explosions in Baghdad neighborhood kill 36, wound 78

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Thirty-six people died and 78 were wounded in two explosions Thursday night in the Iraqi capital, the highest casualty toll from an insurgent assault in 10 weeks, police said.

The twin explosions, which took place at an intersection in the Shiite majority Ur neighborhood in northeast Baghdad, were spaced 10 minutes apart, a familiar pattern intended to maximize civilian casualties. Most of those killed in the second bombing were in the crowd that collected at the scene of the first explosion.

Hasan al Rammahi was at his home in the neighborhood when he heard the first explosion and sent out Ameer, his 11-year-old, to buy food from a nearby shop.

But Ameer was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and he was among those injured when the second bomb detonated. Passers-by took him to a hospital, where he was reported in stable condition after suffering serious bleeding in his liver and large intestine.

"I saw many dead people, among them one of Ameer's friends, and the mayor of our neighborhood," Rammahi said. "The scene was very terrible. My son lost part of his large intestine and a finger. The doctors saved his life and I am very grateful to them," said the father, his voice weak and shaking.

Rammahi blamed Baathists — members of the party that supported the late dictator Saddam Hussein — for killing innocent civilians. The explosion showed that despite a nationwide wave of arrests of Baath party members, insurgents are still very active.

Sunni politicians were highly critical of the raids on Baathists that took place this past week. Deputy Prime Minister Salih al Mulaq said the arrests would have adverse consequences on the future of Iraq and the safety and unity of its people.

Gen. Hussein Kamal, the deputy interior minister for intelligence affairs, defended the arrest campaign as legal and aimed at improving security.

"All the arrests had been implemented according to arrest warrants issued by the judicial authorities based on intelligence information about illegal activities," Kamal told McClatchy.

Security forces in Nineveh province, north of Baghdad, announced a curfew, based on confirmed information that insurgent groups were targeting civilians and governmental facilities, Kamal said. He did not identify the groups.

Atheel al Nujafi, the governor of Nineveh province and the brother of the parliament speaker, Usama al Nujaifi, told McClatchy that the curfew was a bad decision because it will hurt the lives of ordinary people.

"The lives of our people in Mosul are more important than earning the daily bread," Kamal retorted.

(Hammoudi is a McClatchy special correspondent)


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