Iraq: 9 killed in separate attacks in Baghdad
BAGHDAD (AP) — A series of attacks struck Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad early on Tuesday, killing nine people and wounding 26, according to Iraqi officials.
The attacks came as Iraqis prepare to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which begins later this week.
Although violence has ebbed since the heights of the insurgency, Baghdad's Shiite areas remain favorite targets for Sunni extremists who seek to ignite nationwide sectarian conflict.
The deadliest attack happened when four parked cars packed with explosives detonated simultaneously in the northwestern neighborhood of Shula early on Tuesday, killing seven people and wounding 16, a police officer said.
The twisted and charred remains of vehicles, including what appeared to be a minibus, could be seen near a damaged house in a narrow residential street after the explosions.
Another police officer said two mortar rounds landed in the capital's northern Chikok district, killing two people and wounding 10.
Two health officials in nearby hospitals confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
While there was no claim of responsibility, coordinated bombings and related attacks are a favorite tactic of Sunni insurgents, including Iraq's local al-Qaida offshoot, known as the Islamic State of Iraq.
Tuesday's attacks occurred three days after back-to-back bomb blasts in a crowded Baghdad market near a revered Shiite shrine and a string of shootings targeting government officials left 17 people dead in what was Iraq's deadliest day this month.
Militants in the past have targeted civilians before and during public holidays, when many employees are off work and families gather in mosques, parks and restaurants to mark the occasion. Iraqi authorities typically beef up security measures during the holidays to try to thwart the attacks.
In August, a relentless wave of attacks rumbled across Iraq shortly before another Muslim holiday, the Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, killing more than 90 people.
Also in Iraq on Tuesday, the Cabinet approved a draft budget for next year of 138 trillion dinars ($118.5 billion) — an 18.5 percent increase over this year's budget. The budget must still be approved by parliament.
Associated Press writers Adam Schreck and Bushra Juhi contributed reporting.