Bomb kills dozens as Iraq celebrates sovereignty

A car bomb exploded in a crowded outdoor market in the northern city of Kirkuk today, killing at least 24 people, police said, a deadly reminder of the challenges facing the Iraqi government even as it celebrated the withdrawal of US combat troops from cities.



The bombing marred what had otherwise been a festive day as Iraqis marked what the government decreed National Sovereignty Day.

It came hours after four US soldiers were killed in combat Monday in Baghdad.

Despite the continued violence, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki assured Iraqis that government forces taking control of urban areas were more than capable of ensuring security.

"Those who think that Iraqis are not able to protect their country and that the withdrawal of foreign forces will create a security vacuum are committing a big mistake," he said in a nationally televised address.

He later appeared at a military parade to mark the day in the walled-off Green Zone in central Baghdad, with soldiers and policemen marching in formation while Iraqi helicopters flew overhead.

The withdrawal, which was completed on Monday, was part of a US-Iraqi security pact and marks the first major step toward withdrawing all American forces from the country by Dec. 31, 2011. President Barack Obama has said all combat troops will be gone by the end of August 2010.

The car bomb exploded as the vegetable and poultry market was crowded with people shopping for their evening meal, police Brig. Gen. Sarhat Qadir said.

Police and hospital officials gave the death toll and said about 40 people were wounded.

It was the latest in a series of bombings and shootings that have killed more than 250 people since June 20, including a truck bombing near Kirkuk that killed 82 people.

US and Iraqi officials have warned more violence was likely as suspected Sunni insurgents try to undermine confidence in the government in the days surrounding the withdrawal deadline.

The military said the four US soldiers who were killed Monday served with the Multi-National Division-Baghdad but did not provide further details pending notification of their families. It said they died as a "result of combat related injuries."

It was the deadliest attack against US forces since May 21, when three soldiers were killed and nine others were wounded in a roadside bombing in southern Baghdad.

The top US commander in Iraq said the latest deaths show militants remain a threat but said he was confident Iraqi security forces could face the challenge.

"It reminds me that there are still dangers out there. There are still people out there who do not want the government of Iraq to succeed. They do not want to see a democratic country move forward," Gen. Ray Odierno said Tuesday at a news conference.

He said many roadside bomb and rocket attacks in Baghdad were being carried out by militants being funded or trained by Iran, including recent strikes against the Green Zone, which houses the US Embassy.

But, he said, the number of such attacks was "significantly smaller" due to security measures making them more difficult to carry out.

"Iran is still supporting, funding and training surrogates who operate inside of Iraq. They have not stopped and I don't think they will stop," Odierno told reporters at Camp Victory, a US military base on the western edge of Baghdad.

He also said that 130,000 US troops remain in Iraq, although he declined to say how many would remain in cities as trainers and advisers.

"We will be here, we are not leaving," he said. "We'll continue to be in support of the Iraqi security forces to maintain and improve stability throughout the country and I feel confident that we'll be able to do that."

Al-Maliki has urged people to maintain support for Iraqi security forces but trepidation has been growing with the uptick in violence.

"I congratulate the Iraqi people on this day, June 30, when the US forces have withdrawn from Iraq cities in accordance to the forces withdrawal agreement," al-Maliki said. "We consider this day as a national holiday and it is a joint achievement by all Iraqis."

President Jalal Talabani said the day could not have happened without the help of the United States, which invaded Iraq in 2003 and ousted Saddam, who was later convicted by an Iraqi court and executed in December 2006.

"While we celebrate this day, we express our thanks and gratitude to our friends in the coalition forces who faced risks and responsibilities and sustained casualties and damage," Talabani said.

He also warned that "security will not be achieved completely without the proper political environment and without a real national unity and reconciliation."

If the Iraqis can hold down violence in the coming months, it will show the country is finally on the road to stability. If they fail, it will pose a challenge to Obama's pledge to end an unpopular war that has claimed the lives of more than 4,300 US troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis.

Some US troops will remain in the cities to train and advise Iraqi forces. US combat troops will return to the cities only if asked. The US military will continue combat operations in rural areas and near the border, but only with the Iraqi government's permission.

The US has not said how many troops will be in the cities in advisory roles, but the vast majority of the US forces remaining in the country will be in large bases scattered outside cities.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

Special Needs Teaching Assistant

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Special Educational Needs Teach...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London