Bomb Blasts Kill 10, Wound Scores Across Iraq

Bombs struck markets north and south of Baghdad on Monday, with nationwide attacks killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens, and parliament convened despite a boycott by Sunni Arab legislators protesting a colleague's abduction.

A member of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni bloc in the 275-member legislature, suggested that Tayseer al-Mashhadani was kidnapped by Shiite militias and said the legislative boycott would continue until she is released.

Noureddine al-Hyali said the political group had information that al-Mashhadani was being held somewhere near eastern Baghdad's Ur neighborhood — a predominantly Shiite area that is controlled by radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army militia.

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"We got this information from Iraqi security forces as well as the Americans," al-Hyali said.

Bassem Sherif, a member of the main Shiite bloc, urged the Sunnis to come forward with any information about the kidnapping so that parliament could pressure the government to free her.

"Such a boycott only serves the goals of the terrorists because they will feel that they have succeeded in hampering the political march in this country," he said.

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The Sunni Arab bloc announced Sunday it was suspending participation in the legislature until al-Mashhadani was freed.

The lawmaker and seven of her bodyguards were seized Saturday after her convoy was stopped by gunmen at a checkpoint in a Shiite area of eastern Baghdad, just a few miles from where a huge car bomb struck an outdoor market, killing 66 and wounding about 100.

Violence continued Monday.

A parked car bomb aimed at a police patrol exploded near a line of shops in the northern city of Mosul, killing at least seven people and wounding 28, officials said.

A bomb also went off for a second consecutive day at a popular market in Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad, and initial police reports said three people were killed and 22 were wounded. An attack against the same market late Sunday also killed three people and wounded 21, police said.

The mixed Shiite-Sunni town, in a volatile area known for frequent attacks against Iraqi and American forces, is at the center of a U.S. investigation into allegations that a group of American soldiers raped a woman, then killed her and three members of her family in an apparent cover-up attempt.

The Washington Post reported that the rape victim was a 15-year-old girl named Abeer Qassim Hamza and that her mother had worried her daughter had attracted the attention of U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint. The mother asked a neighbor if Abeer could sleep at his house.

The neighbor, Omar Janabi, agreed but the girl and her family was attacked the next day — March 11, according to the Post.

Janabi said he was one of the first people to arrive at the house after the attack and he found the girl dead in a corner, her hair and a pillow burned and her dress pushed up to her neck.

Family members have given permission for the girl's body to be exhumed as part of the investigation, Janabi and the town's mayor, Mouyad Fadhil Saif, told the newspaper.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, arrived in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi as part of a regional tour to drum up support for his 24-point national reconciliation plan that would give amnesty to mainly Sunni Arab insurgents who renounce violence and join the political process.

Iraq's Sunni parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani also was being dispatched to Iran and Bahrain in the next two days, and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb also struck a British armored vehicle south of Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad, British spokeswoman Capt. Kelly Goodall said, adding that nobody was wounded.

Two mortar rounds also landed outside the joint British-Australian base in Samawah, 230 miles southeast of Baghdad, police said, but no injuries or damage were reported.

The attacks underscored the increasing danger facing coalition forces in predominantly Shiite southern Iraq, which has been relatively quiet during a more than three-year-old Sunni-led insurgency but has seen an increase in attacks in recent months.

A self-styled Shiite Muslim insurgent group has pledged to fight U.S., British and other coalition forces but to spare Iraqi civilians and soldiers.

"We have been patient enough and we have given the political process a chance," the Islamic Resistance in Iraq — Abbas Brigades said in a videotape aired Sunday by a Lebanese TV station.

In other developments Monday, according to police and witnesses:

— A bomb struck an oil pipeline in northern Iraq, setting it on fire, but the attack was not expected to affect exports.

— The bullet-riddled bodies of five Iraqi soldiers were found by a sanitation plant in Mandali, on the Iranian border 60 miles east of Baghdad.

— A suicide car bomber apparently targeting an Iraqi patrol blew himself up near the al-Kindi hospital in eastern Baghdad, wounding two soldiers, two policemen and one civilian.

— A mortar round struck a popular fruit and vegetable market in northeastern Baghdad, wounding nine.

— People in the Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in northern Baghdad returned to the streets a day after fierce clashes between Iraqi soldiers and gunmen over a rocket attack on Iraq's most-revered Sunni shrine, the Grand Imam Abu Hanifa Mosque.