Nine people have died and 33 were wounded in a series of bombings in Iraq today including two in central Baghdad, police say.
Spate of bombings across Iraq
BAGHDAD // A string of bombings in Iraq killed nine people and wounded at least 33 others today, including a senior Oil Ministry official, authorities said. Six people died when two bombs, one of them hidden in a bin, exploded in Tahariyat square in central Baghdad during the morning rush hour. Police said 21 people were wounded, including 10 policemen and two women. The explosions caused extensive damage to shops lining the square in the predominantly Shiite eastern side of Baghdad. Also today, Abdul-Sahib Salman Qutub, one of three senior undersecretaries in the Oil Ministry, suffered minor injuries when a bomb went off at his house as he left for work, ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said. Mr Jihad said Mr Qutub's driver was seriously injured in the attack. Another bomb exploded around noon near a police patrol in west Baghdad, injuring one policeman and a civilian, police said. In Baquba, some 60 kilometres north-east of the capital, a car bomb exploded in a car park across the street from the Diyala provincial council headquarters, killing two policemen and a 10-year-old girl, authorities said. Nine others, three of them policemen, were wounded in the blast, which occurred while a conference on defending journalism and freedom of expression was going on inside the building. None of the meeting's participants were injured in the attack. The police officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to release the information. Scattered bombings occur almost daily in Baghdad despite the drop in violence since the Sunni revolt against al qa'eda and the routing of Shiite militias in Baghdad and southern Iraq last spring. Most of the blasts appear to be directed at Iraqi police and soldiers rather than US troops. Also today, the prime minister Nouri al Maliki pledged to protect Iraq's Christian minority, which has faced a spate of attacks this month in the northern city of Mosul, 360 kilometres north-west of Baghdad. Some 13,000 Christian fled the city this month, although some are slowly returning home. "We all feel ashamed that such disgusting events take place in Iraq where one man kills another for reasons of identity or religion and ethnic background," Mr al Maliki said in a speech at a conference on Islamic-Christian dialogue. "We will pay all efforts to keep our Christian brothers honoured and respected in Iraq for they are an essential component of its society," he added. *AP
*AP and AFP