Thursday, April 26, 2007
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Bombers struck an Iraqi army post northeast of Baghdad and civilian targets in the city as violence across Iraq killed at least 72 people Thursday, including the bullet-riddled bodies of 27 men dumped in the capital -- apparent victims of sectarian death squads.
Still, the top American military spokesman insisted the U.S. command felt ''very comfortable'' that it is making ''steady progress'' in restoring order in Baghdad.
''We are seeing those initial signs of progress being made,'' Maj. Gen. William C. Caldwell told Associated Press Radio.
The deadliest attack occurred about 9 a.m. when a suicide car bomber killed 10 Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint in Khalis, a longtime flashpoint city about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad. Ten other soldiers and five civilians were wounded, police said.
The city is in Diyala province, which has seen some of Iraq's worst violence recently. Mostly Sunni Arab insurgents are thought to have fled to the area to escape the security crackdown in Baghdad that U.S. and Iraqi troops launched Feb. 14.
In the capital, a car bomb exploded near Baghdad University, killing eight civilians and wounding 19, including some students, police said.
Associated Press Television News footage showed an elderly woman screaming, ''Oh, my son,'' as she sobbed beside twisted debris.
Ahmed Jassim, who works in a nearby hotel, said he rushed outside after hearing the explosion and helped carry the wounded to ambulances.
''The insurgents were surely targeting civilians because there was no military presence in the area,'' he said. ''I saw small pieces of flesh and a small blood pool.''
Four other civilians were killed and nine wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near a market in central Baghdad, police said. The blast missed its intended target -- a passing police patrol.
72 dead today - steady progress.