Car bombs in Baghdad kill up to 21

Up to 21 people were killed and about 60 wounded in bomb attacks in two Shi’ite districts of Baghdad on Sunday, police said, while two British military personnel died when two helicopters crashed north of the city.

The United States. military said two soldiers died and five were injured when the helicopters crashed near a large U.S. air base in Taji, 20km from Baghdad.
It appeared the helicopters may have collided in mid-air, the statement said.

Britain’s Defence Secretary Des Browne said the aircraft, two Puma transport helicopters, were British.

Two car bombs earlier on Sunday killed 15 people and wounded 50 more in the al-Shurta al-Rabeia neighbourhood in southwest Baghdad. The first was detonated in a market, followed seconds later by another at a nearby intersection, police said.

They said mortar rounds also landed in the area in an apparently coordinated attack.

Twisted metal littered the market, television footage showed. Several cars were damaged in the explosion.

In the Kadhimiya district in the north-west of the city, a police source said a suicide bomber wearing a belt packed with explosives killed six people and wounded 11 in a small bus. Another police source put the death toll at three.

The US military said the helicopter crash near Taji did not appear to be the result of an insurgent attack.

“Sadly, two personnel have died and one is very seriously injured. All of these were UK personnel,” Browne said in a statement issued in London.

The Pumas normally have a three-person crew and can carry up to 16 troops.

Four people, including two Iraqi soldiers, were killed when two oil trucks driven by suicide bombers exploded outside an Iraqi military base in Mosul, 390km north of Baghdad, police said.

A two-month-old, US-backed security crackdown in Baghdad seen as the last-ditch attempt to avoid Iraq from sliding into all-out civil war has reduced the number of targeted killings.

But US and Iraqi commanders still find car and suicide bombers hard to stop.

On Saturday, a suicide car bomber killed at least 40 people and wounded scores at a crowded bus station in Kerbala, a holy city that is a main pilgrimage destination for Shi’ites.

Another 10 people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack on a Baghdad bridge the same day.

Sectarian tensions between majority Shi’ites and once-dominant Sunni Arabs are high after the bombing of a Shi’ite shrine in the town of Samarra in February 2006 unleashed a wave of violence. Tens of thousands have been killed since then. - Reuters

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