BAGHDAD – A series of roadside bombs exploded early Wednesday in separate areas of east Baghdad, killing 11 people and wounding more than a dozen, police said. The U.S. military reported three more American soldiers had died in action in the Iraqi capital.
The first blast occurred about 7:30 a.m. near the Dhubat neighborhood, killing four civilians and wounding seven others, police said.
Two more blasts occurred two minutes apart in another area of eastern Baghdad, killing seven people and wounding seven, police said. The dead included two traffic policemen and five civilians, police said.
The policemen spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
The three American soldiers were killed Tuesday in separate bombings in the capital, the U.S. command said.
Two were killed in west Baghdad and another died in an east Baghdad bombing, the military said. Four other Americans were wounded in the east Baghdad blast, the command said. Two insurgents responsible for the attack were identified, engaged and killed, the statement added.
Those latest deaths occurred as the U.S. Senate was in an all-night session as Democrats sought to dramatize opposition to the Iraq war. Democratic leaders conceded they were unlikely to gain the votes needed to advance troop withdrawal legislation blocked by Republicans.
Meanwhile, dozens of Baghdad residents joined a protest Wednesday in Firdous Square in central Baghdad to demand the government improve security and public services.
The demonstrators held Iraqi flags and banners, urging authorities to "stop mocking us" and to make its only goal "the protection of Iraqis."
"Our demands are not big ones. We need security, electricity and water," said Sheik Nihad al-Sharqawi. "The government has to ensure happiness and prosperity to every Iraqi citizen. Otherwise, it should step down."
The U.S. military has stepped up the pace of operations in recent weeks, hoping to drive Sunni and Shiite extremists from sanctuaries in and around Baghdad as they scramble to train enough Iraqi security forces to prevent the gunmen from regrouping.
On Tuesday, American soldiers backed by tanks, helicopters and at least one F-16 jetfighter rolled into the eastern part of Baqouba, the capital of Diyala province, to drive Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents from the city.
Gunfire could be heard Tuesday in the main market district, and Sunni imams in four mosques used loudspeakers to call on their followers to fight the Americans, residents said by telephone. They spoke on condition of anonymity over fears for their safety.
U.S. and Iraqi forces seized the western part of Baqouba last month and had been expected to mount a major offensive to drive Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents from the rest of the city, 35 miles north of Baghdad. The Islamic State of Iraq, a front group for Al Qaeda in Iraq, has declared Baqouba as its capital.
Sunni extremists were believed to be moving out of Baqouba in anticipation of a U.S. attack, seeking shelter with friendly tribes to the north and east.
Elsewhere in Diyala, police Col. Ragheb Radhi al-Omairi said 29 members of a Shiite tribe were massacred late Monday when dozens of suspected Sunni gunmen raided their village near Muqdadiyah, about 20 miles northeast of Baqouba. The dead included four women, al-Omairi said.
The attackers rode into the village in several cars and trucks about midnight. Some of them were dressed in military clothing, police said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose information. The massacre lasted about a half hour, according to al-Omairi.
A provincial medical official said the bodies were taken to a clinic in Balad Ruz to be handed over to their families for burial. He spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for his safety.