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IRAQ: Bomb hits Baghdad, kills at least 18

March 26, 2009 |  5:01 am

A car bomb killed at least 18 people and injured 40 today in a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad. It was the second major blast in the capital in a week and a reminder of the fragile state of security as American troops prepare to leave Iraq's cities.

The latest attack occurred in the northeastern neighborhood of Shaab, a mainly Shiite district once controlled by militiamen loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr. Like most of the capital, in recent months the neighborhood has seen a sharp drop in violence. Police said today's blast occurred shortly after midday in a busy area near a bus terminal and small market. Among the dead were children, according to initial reports.

On Monday, a bomb in western Baghdad's Abu Ghraib district killed at least nine people, and another blast that day killed 18 people north of Baghdad in Diyala province.

U.S. military officials say violence is at its lowest level across Iraq in more than five years, but rarely does a day go by without at least one report of a bombing or assassination somewhere in the country. Under a U.S. plan to reduce the number of American forces in Iraq, American troops are to withdraw from bases in cities and towns by the end of this summer. President Obama has said that by August 2010 all combat troops will be gone from Iraq, leaving 35,000 to 50,000 forces to serve as advisors and trainers to Iraqi security forces.

—  Times staff writers

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