String of car bombings rock Baghdad as talks under way on finalizing government

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – A string of car bombs rocked Baghdad on Monday, killing 10 people and wounding nearly 80 in an apparent campaign to discredit Iraq’s new leadership. At least 15 people were killed in other bombings and shootings.

Police also discovered the bodies of 28 people in the capital and the northern city of Mosul. They included 15 police recruits from Ramadi who were kidnapped Sunday and killed by insurgents, police said.

The seven car bombs exploded over a five-hour period in six widely separated neighborhoods across the capital. The first blast occurred near the Health Ministry and killed five people, Lt. Col. Faleh al-Mohammedawi said.

Two hours later, bombs hidden in two cars exploded near Mustansiriya University, killing five others, including a 10-year-old boy, al-Mohammedawi said. Blasts also occurred in central Baghdad, the Karradah district, Mansour and the New Baghdad area in the east of the capital.

Al-Mohammedawi put the total number of wounded at nearly 80, most of them in the two fatal bombings.

The bodies of the 15 police recruits from Ramadi were found in a small truck on the western edge of the capital, al-Mohammedawi said. All showed signs of torture. Insurgents in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, have been warning fellow Sunnis against joining the police and army.

Three other bodies were found in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, including a university student who had been kidnapped earlier in the day, police said. The other bodies were found in separate areas of Baghdad.

The latest deaths brought to more than 70 the number of Iraqis reported killed in insurgency- or sectarian-related violence since Jawad al-Maliki was formally chosen Saturday to head a national unity government. The United States believes a unity government of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds is essential to halting the country’s slide into chaos.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite, has 30 days from April 22 to present his Cabinet to parliament for majority approval. A top Shiite official, Ridha Jawad Taqi, said he expected the lineup to be finalized within 15 days.

In an interview Monday with CNN, al-Maliki said he would work toward “national reconciliation on the basis of national dialogue and common interests” among Iraq’s rival ethnic and religious communities.

He also promised to “cleanse our society” of terrorism, combat corruption and disband militias controlled by political parties and integrate them into the armed forces and the police.

“I’m confident that the militias, and there are more than 11 militias, must be disarmed,” al-Maliki said. “There’s no difference between one militia and others.”

Many Sunni Arabs believe militia members have infiltrated the ranks of the police and army and have been responsible for kidnapping and killing Sunni civilians. U.S. and British officials have insisted Cabinet members who have security responsibilities have no ties to militias.

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