Suicide Blasts Kill 45 At Iraqi Market

People clean up after a car bomb blast in predominantly Shiite area in eastern Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2007. At least one person was killed and six were wounded in the blast. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed) AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up Thursday in a crowded outdoor market in a Shiite city south of Baghdad, killing 45 people and wounding 150, police said.

The attackers strolled into the Maktabat outdoor market in the center of Hillah about 6 p.m. as shoppers were buying food for their evening meals. Police said they thought one of the men appeared suspicious and stopped him.

The bomber then detonated his explosives and the second attacker, who was walking behind him, set off his, police added.

The attack killed 45 people and wounded 150, said Capt. Muthanna Khaled, police spokesman in the southern province of Babil, of which Hillah is the capital.

Hillah, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, was the scene of one of the deadliest attacks in the war, when a suicide car bomber killed 125 people on Feb. 28, 2005.

Also, car bombs struck mostly Shiite targets in Baghdad on Wednesday, and the bodies of three Sunni professors and a student were found days after they were seized while leaving their campus in a Shiite part of the city.

At least 43 people were reported killed across Iraq, including a U.S. soldier.

The violence underscored the extreme difficulties facing the capital's 6 million residents as they try to go about their daily lives as U.S. and Iraqi forces gear up for a planned security sweep to clear the city of Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias who are blamed for many of the attacks.

Maamoun Abdel-Hadi said he was standing with a friend near his car when a mortar shell fell on the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in northern Baghdad. The area was hit by nine mortar shells that damaged houses, shops and streets, killing six people and wounding 20, police and hospital officials said.

"We fell on the ground ... I saw four wounded persons lying on the ground and screaming for help. We put them in the car and rushed them to the hospital," Abdel-Hadi said. "We are peaceful people who have nothing to do with any militias or armed groups. What is the guilt of innocent children, women and men who were walking in the street?"

Jamal Ahmed mournfully examined his Mitsubishi car that had been burned in the attack.

"Repairing my car will cost me a fortune, yet I thank God because I am safe and unhurt," he said.

The mortar attack struck about 2 p.m., hours after car bombs hit Shiite targets elsewhere in the capital in what has become a common pattern in the violence plaguing Baghdad.

In other developments:

  • Only one man is being held in the United States as an enemy combatant. And today his lawyers are arguing it's unconstitutional. Ali Al-Marri has been in solitary confinement at a Navy facility in South Carolina since 2003. He was arrested two years earlier on charges of credit card fraud. But investigators say they later uncovered links to al Qaeda, making Al-Marri a security threat.

  • A U.S. soldier also was killed and another was wounded Wednesday in fighting in the mainly Sunni Salahuddin province north of Baghdad, while three others troops died in combat the day before west of the capital, the military said.

  • The U.S. government wasted tens of millions of dollars in Iraq reconstruction aid, including scores of unaccounted-for weapons and a never-used Baghdad training camp with an Olympic-size swimming pool, investigators say. The quarterly audit by Stuart Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, is the latest to paint a grim picture of waste, fraud and frustration in an Iraq war and reconstruction effort that has cost taxpayers more than $300 billion.

  • Two former secretaries of state had criticisms of different aspects of President Bush's policy on Wednesday. Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright have been testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In her prepared testimony, Albright opposes the idea of sending more troops. She says she could have supported it if the increase had been tied to "a clear, important and achievable mission." Kissinger told the committee the U.S. should always be ready to negotiate, even with countries such as Iran and Syria. He's proposing that a regional conference be organized.

  • Two senators leading separate efforts to put Congress on record against President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq joined forces Wednesday, agreeing on a nonbinding resolution that would criticize the plan. Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., had been sponsoring competing measures, with Warner's less harshly worded version attracting more Republican interest. The new resolution would vow to protect funding for troops while keeping Warner's original language expressing the Senate's opposition to the troop buildup.
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      Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.

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