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Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 18:26 UK

Baghdad shaken by suicide attacks

A shoe lies on the ground near the site of a suicide bombing in Baghdad's Baghdad al-Jadida neighborhood, in Iraq, 02/10/2008
The bomber in Baghdad al-Jadida blew himself up by the roadside

Suicide bombers have struck near two Shia mosques in Baghdad, killing at least 20 people and wounding another 54, Iraqi security officials have said.

The attacks came as worshippers left the mosques after prayers for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan.

Ten people died in a suicide bombing in the Zafaraniya district, while another 10 were killed in Baghdad al-Jadida.

Six other people from one family died when gunmen opened fire on a minibus in Baquba, north of Baghdad, police said.

The victims - the minibus driver, three women and two five-year-old children - were all Sunnis in an area of Diyala province where the Shia Mehdi Army has strong support, says the BBC's Hugh Sykes in Baghdad.

Government officials had warned that militants might launch attacks around the time of Ramadan, one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar.

Checkpoint

In the Baghdad district of Zafaraniya, the suicide bomber drove his explosives-filled car into an Iraq military armoured vehicle at a checkpoint near a mosque, killing at least 10 people and wounding 28 others.

One witness told the Associated Press news agency that he saw a white car speed toward the mosque and then heard a huge explosion that sparked a fire and heavy smoke.

Map of Iraq

Ammar Hashim, 25, rushed to the site and saw "dead and burned bodies and many injured people crying out in pain".

"Pools of blood and the smell of burned flesh was everywhere and I saw a man of about 70 bleeding and lying on the ground from injuries," he said.

A Reuters cameraman at the scene described seeing a leg and other body parts more than 100m (328ft) from the centre of the blast.

In Baghdad al-Jadida, the teenaged suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt as worshippers were leaving the nearby al-Rasul mosque, killing at least 10 and injuring 26.

"The appalling use of a teenager as a suicide bomber shows how monstrous [al-Qaeda in Iraq is," US military spokesman Lt-Col Steven Stover said, referring to the Sunni Islamist militant group frequently blamed for sectarian attacks.

At least 32 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a string of bomb attacks in Baghdad on Sunday, which targeted people shopping before the beginning of the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The Iraqi army has said that violence in the capital has spiked in the past few weeks. However, violence has reduced sharply this year.

Last month, 359 civilians were killed, while in September 2007, 884 died. It is better but it is still not good, our correspondent says.






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