Car bombings kill 50 in Iraq

story.iraq.carbomb.gi.gifThe first suicide car bomb exploded at 9 a.m., ripping open a packed open-air market in the Sadr City section of eastern Baghdad, Baghdad police said; 32 were killed and 65 were wounded.

The suicide bomber was driving a minibus and detonated the bomb after picking up commuters at the entrance of the market in the densely populated Shiite neighborhood, said an Iraqi who saw the bomb. The explosion was so powerful the witness said he was blown backwards from 150 meters away.

Video from the scene show survivors rushing the wounded out of the blast site while some lingered, crying over pools of blood in the street. The footage also showed several cars, trucks and vans destroyed in the blast, many of them sprayed with shrapnel.

The second car bomb exploded near the courthouse in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, killing at least 18 people and wounding 100, Kirkuk police said.

The blast ignited an intense fire that hampered rescue efforts.

South of the capital, U.S. soldiers killed 15 “terrorists” in a three-hour firefight in Babil province, the U.S. military said.

An Iraqi soldier was also killed in the fighting, which began in Musayyib.

Meanwhile the U.S. military said Saturday an American soldier was killed when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad.

Another soldier died from a “non-combat related injury” Thursday and military investigators are looking into the incident, the U.S. military said Saturday.

The number of U.S. military fatalities in the Iraq war now stands at 2,560.

PM: Lebanon issue ‘dangerous’

Also Saturday Iraq’s prime minister, whose country is mired in Sunni-Shiite sectarian fighting and a relentless insurgent violence, said he wanted to put another conflict on his busy agenda next week when he meets with the Bush administration and other officials — Lebanon.

Nuri al-Maliki — who spoke to reporters in a press conference after the first meeting of the Higher Commission for Dialogue and National Reconciliation — said he would discuss the conflict with the United Nations and the U.S. government during his trip.

Al-Maliki said he would urge the speeding up of a cease-fire and the implementation of International resolutions.

“We have a new and dangerous issue: the military and security situation that came as a result of the Israeli attacks and raids on Lebanon and the destruction of infrastructure and the bombing of water, electricity and airports and what the Lebanese people are living and how it could affect the situation in the region,” al-Maliki said.

Al-Maliki, noting that the trip had been planned for some time, said the Iraqi delegation would be focused on the importance of building of Iraqi security forces and security that “would lead to reconstruction, rebuilding and services.”

But al-Maliki’s comments on Lebanon reflect the political complexities and priorities in the region.

Al-Maliki’s government is an ally of the United States and relies on U.S. security for its existence.

However, his words on the conflict in Lebanon are at odds with the Bush administration’s support of Israel’s fight against the Hezbollah guerrilla network in Lebanon.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite who had been in exile in Syria during the Saddam Hussein era, represents a government dominated by Shiites, who number 60 percent of Iraqis.

Hezbollah is a Shiite Muslim movement and it has support across the Shiite world, including the huge Shiite population in Iraq.

Some Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, have questioned the wisdom of Hezbollah’s raid into Israel that sparked the Israeli offensive in Lebanon. They are largely Sunni nations.

But al-Maliki joins other leaders across the Muslim world — both Shiite and Sunni — who have solely laid the blame on Israel in the conflict.

Also Saturday, around 2,000 demonstrators marched from Sadr City to a square near the headquarters of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite group, to protest “Israeli acts of terror on the Lebanese people” and to express solidarity with the Lebanese people.

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