Death toll now 9 in Baghdad bombing

BAGHDAD — A car bomb in central Baghdad killed at least nine people Thursday and wounded at least 20, Iraqi police said.

The explosion occurred on al Khayam Street in the Bab al Sharji neighborhood, not far from a bridge leading to the Green Zone. It was less than three miles away from where a double bombing killed 70 a week ago.

The bombings bookend a week that saw an increase in violence for U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

Since Monday, 12 U.S. soldiers have been killed in suicide bombings, roadside bombings or rocket attacks. The latest deaths came Wednesday when three soldiers were killed by rockets that hit their base near Nasiriyah, southeast of Baghdad.

Also on Thursday, the body of a Catholic Chaldean archbishop was found near Mosul. Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was kidnapped Feb. 29 in Mosul as he left Mass. The three people with him were killed.

Along the Iranian border in Sulaimaniyah province, government officials said five mountain villages were shelled by Iranian armed forces for more than two hours Thursday morning. No casualties were reported.

The Iranian military bombarded the same area last autumn in an attempt to strike members of the anti-Iranian Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK. The group is closely allied with the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has strongholds in northern Iraq along the Turkish border. Both groups seek the creation of an independent Kurdistan and are considered terrorist organizations by Turkey and Iran.

Three weeks ago, the Turkish military struck PKK forces inside Iraq.