Car Bombs Kill Dozens in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Nearly 40 people have died in a rash of car bombings in Iraq's capital over a 12-hour span, including two coordinated blasts early Thursday that killed 15 and wounded 28 more in a central Baghdad shopping district, police said. The attacks served as a chilling reminder of how potent militants remain in the capital despite around-the-clock U.S. and Iraqi troop patrols.

Thursday's carnage in the capital's Karradah area came on the heels of bloodshed late Wednesday that included four car bombs exploding within minutes of each other. At least 23 people were killed in western Baghdad's Shula neighborhood and a nearby suburb. Nineteen were killed in Shula alone.

The explosions were carried out at times when large crowds were on the capital's streets. Wednesday night's bombs came hours before an 11 p.m. curfew when many residents were out at eateries or chatting on the streets before locking themselves inside their homes.

Thursday's twin explosions took place when many were just beginning their daily routines. The attacks in Karradah happened nearly simultaneously, police Lieutenant Colonel Salman Abdul Karim and officer Ahmed Hatam al-Sharie said. Five police officers were among the 15 dead.

Separately, a car bomb detonated by remote control hit an Iraqi police patrol in Tuz Khormato, north of Baghdad, killing one policeman and wounding seven civilians, police Brigadier General Sarhad Qadr said.

In an incident before dawn Thursday, U.S. troops backed by Iraqi troops and helicopters killed seven insurgents who opened fire on the patrol from a home in western Baghdad's Jamiaa neighborhood, police officials said.

The home was reduced to rubble and U.S. troops standing in front displayed a weapons cache they had seized, including rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, machine guns and ammunition.

Iraqi police, meanwhile, detained 50 suspected insurgents in separate raids in southeastern Baghdad and north of the capital on Thursday, officials said.

In all, at least 32 people were killed Wednesday across Iraq, including a prominent Sunni law professor. Jassim al-Issawi's killing, potentially the most politically significant act of violence since Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari came to office nearly two months ago, marked the first direct attempt to scare moderates away from political participation.

Al-Issawi was shot dead with his son, said Abdul-Sattar Jawad, editor of the al-Siyadah daily.

Al-Issawi's killing and the fresh Baghdad bombings provided fresh evidence of the insurgents' ability to strike with impunity in the heavily protected capital, where U.S. and Iraqi forces hunting insurgents patrol around the clock.

Leaders of the Sunni Arab minority condemned al-Issawi's assassination, linking it to what they said was a plan to eliminate key minority figures as the crucial task of writing the country's basic law looms ahead. Al-Issawi was on a list of Sunni Arab candidates included in an earlier round of negotiations to join parliament's 55-member constitutional committee. He later withdrew his candidacy, and a new list of 15 members and 10 advisers was submitted to parliament earlier this week.