Several killed in explosion in Basra
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About a dozen people were killed in an explosion on Saturday in Basra in southern Iraq. According to one official, a power generator blew up while other reports point to a car with explosives.
AP - Two explosions killed at least 10 people and wounded 35 Saturday in a downtown market in Iraq’s second-largest city.
Officials differed over the cause of the blasts that came within minutes of each other at the al-Ashaar market in Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.
Two police officials said a roadside bomb and a car packed with explosives caused the explosions. A health official confirmed the casualties’ number, which was matched by an Associated Press count of bodies rushed to three different hospitals in Basra.
All three officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
But Basra Police Chief Adil Daham said the explosions were caused by a malfunctioning power generator. Such differences are common in the immediate chaotic aftermath of explosions in Iraq.
Television footage showed bloodied bodies being loaded into ambulances amid hysterical bystanders, some of whom blamed Iraq’s stalled government for the bloodshed.
“Why do they not agree, while the victims are falling down?” shouted one unidentified man. “The politicians are after posts and chairs. Reach an agreement, you traitors.”
Five months after parliamentary elections that failed to produce a clear winner, Iraq’s leaders have yet to form a new government _ sparking angst and anger across the country. In Basra, where power outages have stymied air conditioning units in the searing summer temperatures, citizens have held demonstrations to blame politicians for the lacking public services.
The explosions marked the end of a violent day that saw the killings of seven policemen around Iraq _ the latest spate of attacks on security forces as all but 50,000 U.S. military troops head home by the end of the month.
In the most dramatic strike, gunmen killed five Iraqi policemen in an overnight shootout that lasted until dawn at a suspected bomb workshop in western Baghdad, security officials said.
Tipped off by a carjacking, police trailed the suspects to a house in the mostly Sunni neighborhood of Saidiya, where they came under fire from an unknown number of gunmen.
The shooting lasted for hours until daybreak, when the gunmen slipped away through a rear entrance, according to two Baghdad police officers and an Interior Ministry official. Two of the attackers were nabbed later Saturday while hiding in an orchard in a suburb north of Baghdad, the officials said.
When police searched the house at the scene of the shootout, they found one gunman dead with a pistol at his side.
Seven policemen and six residents, including two women and a 14-year boy, were also wounded in the shootout, the officials said. An emergency room worker at Yarmouk Hospital confirmed the casualties.
Also inside the house, police said they found a cache of bombs, chemicals and other devices to make explosives.
A minibus packed with explosives was also found in the garage, officials said, adding that there was a trail of fresh blood in the house from at least one of the gunmen.
Also Saturday, a policeman was shot dead at a checkpoint and two others were wounded outside the city of Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, in another pre-dawn attack, according to security and hospital officials.
In the nearby restive town of Karma, militants planted bombs outside the homes of three policemen and a member of the government-allied Awakening Council. Some 15 people were wounded, but there were no fatalities, unlike in previous such attacks, officials said.
And in the northern city of Mosul, a suicide bomber killed one policeman and wounded three others during a security foot patrol, police and hospitals officials said. Two bystanders also were injured.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Violence has dipped dramatically in Iraq, but shootouts and bombings are still common.
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