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Bombings in Baghdad claim at least 15 lives as U.S. drawdown continues

BAGHDAD, Iraq — At least 15 Iraqis were killed and 41 others wounded in two separate incidents in the Iraqi capital Saturday, police said

The explosions came while the American army continues moving its troops out of Iraqi under the 2008 Status of forces agreement that requires that at U.S. troops leave Iraq by year's end.

The first incident took place in Abu Ghraib town in western Baghdad when a roadside bomb struck a civilian pickup loaded with construction workers, killing eight and wounding 13.

The other involved three separate explosions triggered in sequence at a market in the Bab al Sharqi district in central Baghdad, less than two miles away from the heavily protected Green Zone, where most of the offices of the Iraqi government are located. Security sources confirmed that eight people were killed and 28 wounded.

The incidents immediately brought attention to Iraqi security preparations for the upcoming Ashura holiday, when millions of Shiite Muslims travel to the city of Karbala, south of Baghdad, to mark the anniversary of the death of the Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed who died at the Battle of Karbala in 680 A.D. Shiite pilgrims are frequent targets of terrorist attacks during the holiday, and hundreds were killed during the wave of sectarian violence that swept Iraq between 2005 and 2007.

Some analysts fear that this year will mark a return to that bloodshed after the last two months, when the Shiite-led Iraqi government has undertaken a nationwide crackdown on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baathist party, especially in the country's southern provinces, where Shiites are the majority. The arrests have been criticized by Sunni Muslim leaders as illegal, but the government has defended them, claiming those arrested have ties to terrorist activities and are based on warrants issued by courts.