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ML--Iraq

Associated Press

Car bombs killed 17 people in Baghdad on Wednesday, fueling concern about Iraq’s security capabilities less than two months before the nation’s army and police assume full responsibility in the country’s cities.

An Iraqi military official blamed the latest bloodshed in part on former detainees released by U.S. forces who have since returned to violence. Some analysts have speculated that Sunni Arab insurgent groups have regrouped after sharp setbacks suffered in fighting with U.S. and Iraqi forces over the last two years.

The main blast occurred at the entrance to the Rasheed wholesale produce market in the Dora area of south Baghdad, killing 15 people and wounding nearly 50, according to police, hospitals and Interior Ministry officials. A second car bomb was found in the area and defused.

Hours later, a car bomb exploded in the capital’s Karada district, killing two people and wounding six, police said. It apparently was meant for a police patrol but missed.

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Seven other people were wounded when a bomb exploded near Palestine Street in mostly Shiite Muslim east Baghdad, police said.

Last month, at least 451 people were killed in political violence nationwide, compared with 335 in March, 288 in February and 242 in January, according to an Associated Press tally.

Although those death tolls are far lower than for the comparable periods of 2006 and 2007, the trend is disturbing. April was also the deadliest month of 2009 for U.S. troops, with 18 deaths.

Most major bombings this year have struck Shiite areas, suggesting Sunni militants such as the group Al Qaeda in Iraq are responsible. The market is in a mainly Sunni area, but most farmers who bring their crops there are Shiites.

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