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15 dead in Baghdad bombing

August 18, 2008|Ned Parker and Saif Hameed | Times Staff Writers

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber killed 15 people Sunday night, including at least six U.S.-backed Sunni Arab fighters, near a crowded outdoor market in east Baghdad, security officials and local leaders said.

At least 30 people were wounded in the attack near the historic Abu Hanifa Mosque in the Sunni district of Adhamiya. Women and children were among the dead, said Abu Abed, the head of the U.S.-funded Sons of Iraq neighborhood security group there.

There were contradictory accounts of the incident. One police officer said the bomber was disguised as a woman and arrived on foot; another said the attacker was not disguised and arrived on a bike.

Increasingly, militant groups have been using female suicide bombers to evade checkpoints and security checks because custom bars Iraqi men from frisking women.

The bomber struck about 7:30 p.m., when the shift of local Sunni guards normally changes over, Abu Abed said.

The commander at the checkpoint, Farouq abu Omar, and four of his men were slain, he said. Abu Omar normally commanded 32 men.

At least 16 Sons of Iraq fighters have died in Adhamiya since the group was founded in winter, Abu Abed said. He warned that Al Qaeda in Iraq was regrouping in Baghdad.

"We informed American forces Al Qaeda is reorganizing, and these are the results," he said.

Abu Abed has described his group as under attack from both Al Qaeda in Iraq and fighters linked to Shiite Muslim militias, including radical cleric Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army and the Badr Corps.

Omar Ali, a teacher, was shopping in the market when he heard the blast and ran to the area and saw Abu Omar's body in a chair, he said.

"We saw scattered bodies, and a half-body with no upper torso," Ali said.

Despite Sunday's attack, Ali said he remained optimistic.

"The good people are present. We see now how Adhamiya has recovered," Ali said.

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ned.parker@latimes.com

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