Bomb, sniper attacks kill 15 people in Mosul, Baghdad
Iraq announces measures to protect Christians
BAGHDAD - Suicide car bombers struck twice yesterday in the northern city of Mosul, killing at least six people and wounding dozens of others, US and Iraqi officials said. A car bomb killed seven other people in Baghdad.
Two Iraqi soldiers were killed by snipers in separate attacks in the capital's Yarmouk district, police said.
Also yesterday, the government announced new security measures to protect Christians in Mosul after a spate of attacks against them by Sunni religious extremists.
The series of attacks shows the ongoing security challenges facing Iraq as the United States shifts responsibility to this country's own soldiers and police following the sharp decline in violence since last year.
The first attack in Mosul occurred when a suicide car bomber attacked a US patrol, the US military said. There were no American casualties, but five Iraqis were killed, including three young boys, the United States said.
Another suicide car bomber targeted Iraqi police in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad. Twenty-five people were wounded, the United States said.
In Baghdad, a parked car bomb exploded in a commercial street in the Bayaa district, killing seven people and wounding nine others, police said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not supposed to release the information.
The southwestern Baghdad neighborhood was the scene of bitter Sunni-Shiite fighting until last year when the US troop "surge," the Sunni revolt against Al Qaeda and a cease-fire by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr brought down violence to its lowest level in four years.
"Several car bombings have occurred on this street but no measures were taken to prevent these events," one Bayaa resident, who gave only his nickname Abu Ibrahim, told Associated Press Television News. "Where is the government? Where are the security officials to prevent such attacks?"
Attacks have been continuing in Mosul, Iraq's third largest city, despite months of US and Iraqi security operations against Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups.
The governor of the province that includes Mosul, Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula, said Saturday that about 3,000 Christians have fled the city over the past week alone to escape threats and attacks by Sunni extremists.
An Interior Ministry spokesman, Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf, said yesterday that the government was taking new measures to protect Mosul's Christians, including more police in their neighborhoods and more checkpoints and patrols near churches.
"Anyhow, there is a kind of exaggeration in describing the events in Mosul," Khalaf said. "We don't deny that hostile acts occurred, but we have the ability to stop such acts and the situation is under control."