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Bombs in northern Iraq leveled 35 homes; death toll unknown

Sabah Sami, 27, was injured by shrapnel when a car bomb exploded Monday morning near his breakfast stand in southwest Baghdad.
Sabah Sami, 27, was injured by shrapnel when a car bomb exploded Monday morning near his breakfast stand in southwest Baghdad. Laith Hammoudi / MCT

BAGHDAD — Early morning bombings Monday in Baghdad and Mosul killed at least 49 people and wounded 231, the third large-scale attack on civilians in the past 10 days.

In the first attack, two truck bombs exploded about 4 a.m. in a Shiite Muslim neighborhood north of Mosul, killing 30 people and wounding 130, police said. The number of casualties could grow. Police said they were still removing bodies from the rubble 12 hours after the blast leveled 35 houses.

Two car bombs then exploded about 6:30 a.m. in southwest Baghdad on streets where day laborers gathered, killing 16 people and wounding 81. Seven smaller bombings in Baghdad, mostly improvised explosive devices, targeted commercial strips and killed three people.

"Those who do that are not human beings. They do it only to ignite sectarian violence," said Sabah Sami, 27, who was selling breakfast foods to laborers in Baghdad's Shurta neighborhood when one of the car bombs exploded.

More than 50 people were killed Friday in bombings in Mosul and Baghdad. Friday's attack in Mosul was directed at a mosque; the assaults in Baghdad were aimed at Shiite pilgrims returning from a religious celebration in Karbala.

Seven mosques were attacked July 31. American and Iraqi officials say that insurgents are targeting civilians to incite violence between religious sects, but they haven't yet seen evidence of retaliatory killings.

Sami said the number of casualties would have been worse Monday in Shurta if not for the efforts of a police officer, who urged the laborers to leave when he heard news of a bombing in the Amil neighborhood nearby.

"He stopped at a parked car and asked, 'Whose is this?' The car detonated," killing the police officer, Sami said.

The explosion threw Sami to the ground and punctured his chest, arm and abdomen with shrapnel. He said his father removed the pieces and they provided first aid to some of the wounded.

Another witness described the car as one that was familiar in the neighborhood, though he didn't see a driver.

"A big ball of fire went up in the air, and there was a very big bang. Suddenly, I couldn't see anything because a black cloud of smoke covered everything," said Jabir Abid, 24, a laborer who saw the explosion from a nearby cafe.

Hammoudi is a McClatchy special correspondent. Ashton reports for The Modesto (Calif.) Bee.

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