Bomb blast in central Baghdad: 8 Iraqis killed

A bomb exploded alongside a group of Iraqi men waiting for work in eastern Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least eight and wounding more than 50, police said. The blast happened hours before the scheduled resumption of the trial of Saddam Hussein and at least seven co-defendants on accusations of involvement in the 1982 killings of more than 140 people. But it was unclear if the two events were linked.

Col. Ahmed Abboud, chief of police in the New Baghdad area where the explosion happened, cited eyewitnesses saying a man placed a bag full of explosives near a cart that sold tea to men waiting near a crowded intersection for a day's work. "The people did not suspect him when he first came with the bag because all workers carry their food in such bags," Abboud told The Associated Press.

The attack happened at about 7 a.m. near the Sunni Muslim al-Samaraei mosque in the New Baghdad neighborhood. Police sealed off the area and the wounded were taken to several nearby hospitals. Abboud and another police official, Capt. Mohammed Jassim Jaber, said at least eight people were killed and more than 50 wounded.

Initial reports from multiple police officials claimed that the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber wearing an explosives-packed belt. It was not immediately clear if the attacker was among those killed or wounded.

The blast showered the area in shattered glass from shop windows and blood covered the pavement. Pink rubber gloves, blue overalls and white boots were among the belongings of the victims that scattered the area. It was unclear why the workers were targeted and the officials said there were no security forces near the scene of the bombing.

Also Wednesday, a roadside bomb blast missed a U.S. patrol but killed one civilian and wounded two others Wednesday in the town of Amiriyah, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Baghdad, said police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq.

Another roadside bomb exploded in central Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, killing one civilian and wounding three others, said Diyala police's Joint Coordination Center.

Gunmen shot dead a man standing outside his house in southern Baghdad's Dora neighborhood, the scene of regular slayings and kidnappings, said police Capt. Firras Giti. Despite repeated calls by local political and religious leaders for an end to the violence, bombings, shootings and assassinations continue apace throughout Iraq and are inflaming sectarian tensions in the process.

The violence is clouding ongoing negotiations to form a new unified national government comprising Iraq's Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni Arab communities. The United States is backing efforts for the government to include the Sunni Arabs, from whose numbers the bulk of Iraq's insurgents come.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari's office said in a statement Wednesday that the premier met Kurdistan regional President Massoud Barzani a day earlier to discuss efforts to form a national unity government.

Al-Jaafari is one of four Shiite politicians being touted as the next prime minister, who will have the difficult task of forming a Cabinet able to meet the needs of Iraq's diverse communities and bring Iraq's violence under control, reports the AP. I.L.

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