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Iraq: Explosions kill dozens on eve of Iraq war anniversary


At least 56 people were killed and 200 wounded Tuesday around Baghdad on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, according to police and medical officials.

The wave of morning attacks during rush hour targeted mainly small restaurants, day laborers and bus stops in mostly Shia neighborhoods in the Iraqi capital within a one-hour period.

Iraq's cabinet meanwhile on Tuesday decided to postpone provincial elections set for April 20 by up to six months because of the security situation, a cabinet statement said, without giving details.

Police officials said the first attack took place near a small restaurant in Baghdad's Mashtal neighborhood, killing four people and wounding 15. Minutes later, two day laborers were killed and eight wounded when a roadside bomb went off in an area of New Baghdad.

The other attacks in six different areas in and around the city included a sticky bomb attached to a minibus and at least several other car bombs which went off in front of restaurants and in commercial streets.

Two people were also gunned down in Saidiyah and Mansur.

"I was driving my taxi and suddenly I felt my car rocked. Smoke was all around. I saw two bodies on the ground. People were running and shouting everywhere," Al Radi, a taxi driver caught in one of the blasts in Baghdad's Sadr City, told Reuters.

No one had claimed responsibility for the attacks, but al-Qaeda-linked groups are commonly behind Iraq’s deadly suicide bombings.

Soldiers and police established new checkpoints, and were searching government-marked vehicles that are typically allowed to pass uninspected. Security forces also closed off key roads around the capital.

Violence has spiked ahead of the anniversary of the 2003 US-led invasion, with 87 people killed in the past week, according to an AFP tally based on reports from security and medical officials.

Britain-based Iraq Body Count has said that more than 112,000 civilians have been killed since the 2003 invasion. An Opinion Research Business poll puts the number at over one million.

(AFP, AP, Reuters)

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