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15 killed in twin Baghdad blasts

Fifteen people have been killed and around 50 others injured in twin explosions in a Shiite area of eastern Baghdad, Iraqi officials said.

The blasts in Sadr City, coming a day after attacks across the capital killed 25 people, served as a reminder of the lengths to which Sunni militants are trying to go in order to reignite sectarian tensions as American forces prepare to go home.

First a bomb went off near a house in a narrow alley in Sadr City, said two police officials. Then, as people gathered at the site of the blast, another bomb went off minutes later. All of the 15 dead were killed in the second, more powerful explosion.

Hassan Rahim, a barber in Sadr City, said he was cutting a customer's hair when he heard the first explosion. "We rushed outside the shop and we saw fire and smoke near the houses," he said.

Reflecting just how much such violence has become a part of Iraqis' daily lives, Mr Rahim then went back inside his shop to continue working. That was when the second blast went off.

"I saw dead people on the ground and several burning cars. We helped take the wounded to the hospital until the arrival of the ambulances," he said. "The security forces should do a better job, otherwise we expect more attacks in Sadr City. More people here are having the feeling that the security forces cannot protect people.

A hospital official confirmed the casualties.

Violence has ebbed across Iraq, but deadly bombings and shootings still occur almost daily as US troops prepare to leave by the end of the year.

Officials have been negotiating over whether to leave a small American military presence into next year to train Iraqi forces, but the two sides have been stuck on what type of legal protections, if any, to provide US forces who remain.

As time goes by, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that any American forces will stay behind, although there will be a massive diplomatic presence.


From Belfast Telegraph