BAGHDAD // A bomb tore through a busy square in Baghdad at midday today, killing at least 22 people and wounding 54, the Iraqi army said, demonstrating the precariousness of the relative calm that Iraq has been enjoying for months. An Iraqi soldier and two other people were killed in a separate bombing south of the capital, police said. Although violence has dropped by more than 80 per cent around Iraq and particularly Baghdad, devastating attacks still occur.
Today's attack broke a 10-day period of comparative calm since the last major bombing in the Iraqi capital, which just one year ago was wracked by an average of 180 daily attacks and sectarian killings. Police also said a suspected al Qa'eda in Iraq fugitive was killed in a gunbattle with police in the western city of Ramadi. He was one of four suspected al Qa'eda in Iraq members who escaped during a jailbreak and ensuing riot at a Ramadi police station on Friday that left six policemen and seven insurgents dead.
The US military and Iraqi officials said the Baghdad blast occurred at al Zahra square, in the northern Baghdad Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah. Associated Press Television News footage of the scene showed scorched vehicles peppered with shrapnel and an engine block that was all that remained of the car bomb. The office of Iraqi army spokesman Brig Gen Qassim al-Moussawi said the blast killed at least 22 people, while a US military spokesman, Capt Charles Calio, said 20 were killed and 25 wounded.
Conflicting casualty tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of bombings in Iraq. Also today, an Iraqi soldier and two other people were killed when a car bomb exploded as they were trying to defuse it in Musayyib, about 40 kilometers south of Baghdad, according to local police. The two nonmilitary victims were members of the local awakening council, also known as Sons of Iraq, one of several names used to refer to the Sunni insurgents and tribesmen who have turned against al Qa'eda in Iraq and joined the US military in the fight against the terror group, a police officer said on condition of anonymity.