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Originally published November 11, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 11, 2008 at 11:14 AM

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Deadly blasts hit Baghdad

Three or more explosions Monday ripped through a busy shopping district in northern Baghdad's Adhamiyah neighborhood, killing at least 28 people and wounding at least 68.

McClatchy Newspapers

BAGHDAD — Three or more explosions Monday ripped through a busy shopping district in northern Baghdad's Adhamiyah neighborhood, killing at least 28 people and wounding at least 68.

North of Baghdad in Baqouba, a 13-year-old girl walked to a checkpoint of Sunni Muslim paramilitary members and detonated explosives.

She killed herself and at least five others, including a leading member of the U.S.-backed paramilitary. At least 15 people were wounded.

Today, Iraqi police say two roadside bombs exploded in quick succession during the morning rush hour in Baghdad, killing two people and wounding 15 others.

The bombings indicated an increasing trend of violence across the country.

The U.S. military put the death toll for the Baghdad bombings at four, but witnesses said they saw dozens of dead bodies and a bus full of people on fire.

It was unclear whether three or four explosions ripped through the Azamiyah shopping district, where professionals, laborers and students were eating breakfast before heading to work.

Witnesses said they saw two car bombs followed by two roadside bombs, while police blamed a suicide bomber and two roadside bombs for the fatalities.

The blasts, which went off over 15 minutes, were timed to coincide with the breakfast rush at Abu Wael's restaurant. Policemen, laborers, merchants and students were eating eggs, meat and potato patties and drinking tea to start their day. Many didn't make it out of the restaurant.

A bus and its passengers burned in the street, which filled with flames and smoke. Witnesses said only two passengers survived.

The Egyptian cook at Abu Wael's died. He had immigrated to Iraq more than 20 years ago and worked at the restaurant for years.

"What was he guilty of, to deserve being killed?" asked Imad Kareem, a co-owner of the family-run restaurant. "He just worked to feed his family."

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When the bombs detonated, Kareem felt the floor shake under his feet, and the ceiling collapsed on him. He survived without a scratch.

The charred remnants of a car that witnesses say exploded sat next to the shell of the restaurant.

Qusay Sabbah heard the first two blasts ring out, and the windows of his home shattered and crashed to the floor. He started to dress and get help when two more blasts ripped through the main street.

Outside was a street of corpses. The wounded pleaded for help. He picked up two young girls and took them to his home to await an ambulance.

"I don't know why they kill the innocent," he said.

As street cleaners swept away the rubble, restaurant owners cleaned up their damaged buildings and street sweepers swept away the blood.

"I am sorry for Iraq and Iraqis," said a passer-by, who wouldn't give his name. "The street sweepers sweep away Iraqi bodies now instead of rubbish."

As Iraqis picked up the bodies from the street, the Iraqi government doled out cash to Sunni militiamen who had been transferred to their authority last month from the U.S. military in Baghdad province.

Monday marked the first day that the Iraqi government paid the $300 monthly wage to member of the militia, formed with the help and funding of the U.S. military.

In recent weeks, there has been an uptick in small-scale bombings in Baghdad. An Associated Press tally showed at least 19 bombings in the city this month, as of Sunday, compared with 28 for all of October and 22 in September.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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