Baghdad suicide car bomb targets prison gates, kills 11, injures 26

BAGHDAD — Security officials said a car driven by a suicide bomber killed at least 11 people and wounded 26 others at the entrance of al Hoot prison in north Baghdad on Monday, just weeks before the final pull-out of U.S forces from Iraq.

Hours later, a magnetic bomb attached to a civilian car exploded near to the Baghdad International Fair grounds in the central Mansour district, killing two civilians and wounding four. While a little after four p.m., a rocket slammed into the fortified Green Zone that houses the U.S. embassy and the Iraqi government. It hit the car park near the Convenssion Centre that houses the Iraqi parliament. No casualties were reported.

The U.S. military had voiced concerns regarding a rise in violence from armed groups after the withdrawal of U.S military forces from Iraq. Iraqis have various explanations for this.

"The Baathists will make a strong effort to regain control of the country after the Americans leave. It is their best chance. The government is not really in control," said Ahmed Abbawi, a baker in the central Karrada district. "It will be the real test for Maliki's forces. I can't say for sure that the [Iraqi] forces will be able to manage the situation. The situation is frightening."

And although violence has tapered off since the height of the sectarian purging in 2006 – 2007, it has not stopped. In October, 62 people were killed in insurgent related incidents in Baghdad province alone, and one hundred in November, including today's victims.

Anees Majid's, acollege student, fears are that Iran will be the biggest challenge after the American military is finally gone. "With more than a hundred thousand soldiers in Iraq, America was not able to stop Iran from taking over Iraq. It is true that Iran is a neighbor and that we respect it. But this is our country and it is us who should be running it, not Iran. I am afraid that there might be more killing in order to control the Iraqi people, and we would be back to square one."

Iraqi security officials reiterate that internal security is under control in spite of all the violence. Adnan al Asadi, first deputy to the acting interior minister said to the press, a week ago, "I am positive that internal security is under control. Our forces have had many years experience now." But at the same time he admitted that the security forces still had many members with links to armed groups, whether Sunni or Shiite.