Two blasts, suicide attack kill 17 in Baghdad
By Kareem Raheem
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Three blasts, including a suicide attack near an army base, killed least 17 people across Baghdad on Tuesday, the latest violence to feed worries that Iraq's unrest may slide into widespread sectarian confrontation.
Insurgent bombers are seeking to enflame tensions as Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki faces increasing pressure from mass Sunni Muslim protests and a separate dispute with the country's autonomous Kurdistan region over the control of oil.
The most deadly of Tuesday's explosions took place in Taji, 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad, where a suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives detonated his bomb near an army base, killing at least seven people and wounding 24.
Another parked car bomb exploded in a crowded market in the Shi'ite neighborhood of Shula, northwestern Baghdad, killing five people and wounded 13, police and hospital sources said.
"We received a call for us to head to the blast site, it was a car bomb. A woman was laying dead with a sack of groceries still beside her, and the wounded were screaming," said policeman Ghalib Ameer, whose patrol was called to Shula.
In Mahmudiya, a town 30 km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, a car bomb attack near an army checkpoint killed five people, including two soldiers and wounded 14 more.
Violence in Iraq has eased since the widespread sectarian carnage of 2006-7, but Sunni Islamist insurgents often tied to a local al Qaeda affiliate still launch frequent attacks to reignite confrontation among the Shi'ite majority, Sunni Muslims and ethnic Kurds.
MAJOR CHALLENGE Continued...