7 Iraqis Killed 16 Wounded Friday In

7 Iraqis Killed, 16 Wounded Friday in String of Bombings
Two Marines Killed

Guerrillas in a town near Baghdad took 60 local Shiites hostage and are threatening to kill them, unless Shiite inhabitants leave the area.

This incident is the most worrying explicit Sunni-Shiite conflict I can remember, and I find it alarming. Shiites could lash out at Sunni Arabs over it.

Robert Worth of the NYT reports that on Friday, a suicide bomber targetted Iraqi police in the city of Mahawil near al-Hillah south of Baghdad, killing 4 of them. [Al-Zaman reports 7 dead, 9 wounded, in this incident.] In Baghdad itself, guerrillas set off three bombs, wounding 9 persons. In the upscale neighborhood of al-Mansur, one of the bombs had targeted a passing US military convoy, but wounded Iraqis instead. The US military announced the killing of two Marines earlier this week, one near Hit and the other in Ramadi.

Al-Zaman/ DPA report that Thursday night/ Friday morning a huge fire broke out in al-Shurjah Market, the biggest market in Baghdad, located in the heart of the capital. Fifty fire fighters attempted to extinguish the blaze, which devoured most of shops and warehouses in the visinity of the market. One three-story building collapsed altogether. Al-Zaman was told by experts that the losses in the conflagration will amount to $100 million. The losses are exacerbated because few shopkeepers had insurance. The loss of this market will affect markets throughout Iraq, insofar as it did wholesaling to the others. The fire was blamed by experts on problems with electrical wiring, but the Iraqi government alleged that terrorists were behind it.

A pamphlet distributed in Samarra and surrounding areas claimed to be from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and it reported that Abu Saif Qaisar Abbasi, a key Zarqawi aide, had been killed in a battle with the Americans near Samarra. The US military declined to comment.

In Kirkuk, guerrillas assassinated Saman Abdullah Izzuddin, a television anchor for the Kurdistan Patriotic Union. In the southern US military prison of Bucca, one Iraqi was killed and 12 were wounded in a prison riot among prisoners.

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