Car bomb explosion kills 41 in Baghdad neighborhood
BAGHDAD - A car bomb exploded yesterday near several restaurants in a Shi'ite neighborhood of northwest Baghdad, killing 41 people and injuring more than 70, police and hospital officials said.
No group claimed responsibility for the horrific blast but the style and location of the attack suggested it was carried out by Sunni extremists, such as Al Qaeda in Iraq, in an apparent bid to rekindle sectarian warfare as the United States draws down forces in the capital.
The blast appeared timed for maximum civilian casualties, going off about 7 p.m. when many Baghdad residents take advantage of cooler evening temperatures for shopping and dining in outdoor kebab restaurants.
It was the first major car bombing in the capital since May 6, when 15 people were killed at a produce market in south Baghdad, and the deadliest in the city since twin car blasts killed 51 people in another Shiite neighborhood, Sadr City, on April 29.
Nearly 200 people were killed in major bombings in Baghdad alone last month - mostly against Shiite targets.
That has raised concern about security in the capital ahead of a June 30 deadline for the United States to remove all combat forces from Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.
Police said the blast happened in Shula, a sprawling neighborhood which had been a stronghold of Shiite militias including the Mahdi Army during the height of sectarian fighting two years ago.
A witness who gave only his nickname Abu Ahmed, or "Father of Ahmed," said a small truck carrying vegetables parked near a restaurant at Sadrain Square and the driver disappeared.
After five minutes, the car exploded, killing men, women and children.
Also yesterday, three US soldiers were wounded in north Baghdad in a blast from a type of weapon which the US military believes is manufactured in Iran and smuggled from Iran.