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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
No let-up in violence for Baghdad
By Jane Peel
BBC News, Baghdad

At 0645 local time the occupants of the BBC house in Baghdad were woken by a loud boom and the rattling of windows.

An Iraqi man grieves at the loss of his relative in a Baghdad bombing 08 Aug
Attacks have continued despite beefed-up security

It was obviously a bomb. The only thing odd, we thought, was that it had started a little earlier than usual.

The bombers more often than not start their deadly work after 0730 when the streets are filling up.

The first blast was followed within 15 minutes by two more close by.

The targets were one of Baghdad's main taxi and bus stations busy with people travelling out of the city, and Iraqi police officers stationed nearby. Nine people, all civilians, died. Eight people were wounded.

It was four hours later when two roadside bombs detonated in a busy market in the al-Shurja district of Baghdad. Ten people were killed there, 69 wounded.

At about the same time gunmen raided a bank in Adhamiya in the north of Baghdad. They shot dead three security guards and two bank officials. Their haul in Iraqi dinars was the equivalent of US$4,000.

Running battle

It was just another morning in this dangerous city where the people have come to expect death and destruction on every corner.

Sandals belonging to victims of a Baghdad bombing on 08 Aug
The places targeted were busy with people in the early morning

It came a day after the latest security clampdown began, aimed at putting an end to the activities of insurgents and the militias engaged in a bitter sectarian conflict.

Thousands of extra American and Iraqi troops have been deployed in Baghdad.

Their first major operation, in the early hours of Monday, was to raid what US forces said were a death squad and torture cell based in the Shia Muslim stronghold of Sadr City in north-east Baghdad.

The result was a running battle with gunmen. Three people were arrested.

Such assaults are likely to become more common as the security forces try to undermine the ability of the militias to act, but they could also further alienate Iraqis, many of whom complain that innocent people are being caught up in the battles.

It is making Iraq's political leadership uneasy, too. While they want and need the assistance of the coalition, they are uncertain about what they see as heavy-handed tactics.

'Great mistake'

The Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, a Shia who draws much of his political support from people associated with the Shia militias, has already forcefully condemned the Sadr City raid.

He described it as a "great mistake" which had gone ahead without his agreement. He said it would not happen again.

Mr Maliki, instead, is pinning his hopes on bringing the warring factions together as part of his big political project for national reconciliation.

Neither the bombardment of the militia strongholds nor the efforts at peaceful dialogue will bring overnight success. The people of Baghdad will probably be waking up to the usual dawn chorus for a little longer.


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