At Least 61 Killed Across Iraq; 7 U.S. GIs Reported Dead

Sunni insurgent bombers on Saturday struck yet another market in a predominantly Shiite district, killing at least 13 in their relentless bid to terrorize Baghdad in the final days before U.S. and Iraqi soldiers plan to begin a massive crackdown in the capital.

The U.S. military also reported the deaths of seven more soldiers.

The latest market attack capped a week in which more than 150 people, mostly Shiites, were slain in bomb attacks.

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Death squads, believed to be primarily Shiite militiamen, continued their butchery on the other side of Iraq's deepening sectarian divide, with police reporting the discovery of 40 bodies dumped in Baghdad alone. Two of the victims were women and most of the bodies showed signs of torture, police said.

In all, at least 61 victims of Iraq's sectarian warfare were killed or found dead across the country.

Of the seven service members reported dead on Saturday, two died in Diyala province northeast of the capital on Friday, three in an unspecified location north of Baghad on Saturday and two in east Baghdad on Thursday.

The latest reported deaths raised to at least 3,079 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,471 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military.

U.S. airstrikes killed 14 insurgents and destroyed a safe house for foreign fighters during a raid south of Baqouba, 60 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad. Two suspects were capture, the military said.

The Americans said the raid had targeted a foreigner they believed responsible for a series of attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces in the extremely violent Baqouba region. The military has been scissored there in the midst of some of the bloodiest sectarian fighting of the war.

Saturday's bombings employed what has become a classic insurgent tactic. First a suicide car bomber smashed in the busy New Baghdad commercial area shortly after noon, near a major intersection lined with stores and kiosks selling food, clothes, household appliances and birds.

As rescuers and shopprs rushed to help the victims, a parked car bomb exploded. The 13 killed included two policemen; four officers were among the 42 wounded, police said.

The burned-out hulks of cars and vans littered the market. A bag of fruit could be seen among the twisted metal on the bloody pavement.

Farooq Haitham, the 33-year-old owner of a watch repair shop, said the area had been targeted by many bombings but shopkeepers had no choice but to keep opening their doors.

"What can we do? We want to live. We need the money so we come to work," Haitham said.

It was the latest in a series of attacks against commercial targets this week, in which more than 150 people since last Sunday and signaling a tough battle ahead as U.S. and Iraqi forces prepare for the security operation, a third bid to pacify the capital since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took power on May 25.

The deadliest attack killed 88 people Monday when a suicide car bomber crashed into a market in the central neighborhood of Bab al-Sharqi.

Shortly before sunset Saturday, a rocket slammed into the Green Zone, wounding two people slightly. It was the second time in three days that rockets hit the area, home to the U.S. Embassy, the Iraqi government and thousands of American troops. Two people sustained slight wounds Saturday. Six were hurt in Thursday's attack at about the same time of day.

In central Baghdad, police said armed men in police commando uniforms and driving cars with license plates commonly used by the Interior Ministry raided a computer shop in a Christian section of the Sina'a neighborhood and took away four employees and three customers.

"The group pointed their guns at the victims and the passers-by, then they forced the victims into the cars and they sped away," Younis Kadhim, 36, who owns a small restaurant nearby.

Two mortar shells also slammed into a residential district in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Hurriyah, killing two people and wounding seven others.

A taxi driver was shot to death after he was caught in the crossfire during clashes in Mosul. A parked car bomb targeting an Iraqi army patrol later exploded in the northern city, killing one civilian and wounding another.

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