42 dead as violence rages in Iraq

17 May 2006


BAGHDAD, May 16: More than 40 Iraqis died in bombings and shootings on Tuesday as Iraq’s dominant Shias promised the quick formation a new government. Shia politicians presented a list outlining the make-up of a proposed government and said a cabinet would take shape in the next “24 hours,” but a US diplomat said “if I was a betting man, I would not say tomorrow.”

Talks over the formation of a unity government, which sectarian squabbles have blocked for the past five months, were again overshadowed by violence that claimed the lives of at least 42 Iraqis.

A shooting and carbombing at a packed market in Baghdad claimed 23 lives and wounded at least 38 people, officials said.

Several women and children were among the dead in the attack, which targeted a mixed Sunni-Shiite area, an interior ministry source said.

A group of gunmen pulled up to the market in a pair of minibuses in the Al-Shaab district and opened fire on a bus stop, killing five people, before making their getaway in one of the vehicles.

The other minibus exploded when bystanders came to the aid of the injured, killing another 18.

At least 17 Iraqis were killed in other attacks in and around the capital and two police officers shot dead in the northern oil hub of Kirkuk.

A US soldier was killed by a bomb in the south of the capital, the US military said, adding that two soldiers were killed in a similar incident in Balad, north of the capital, the previous day.

Meanwhile, a lawmaker who attended a Shiite coalition meeting with prime minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki said a government would be proposed as early as Wednesday but that the appointments of the heads of the coveted security posts would be left for later.

“Within the next 24 hours the composition of the government may be announced without naming the defence and interior ministry posts,” Shia deputy Hassan al-Sunaid told AFP.

“A number of candidates have been presented to (Maliki) for these posts, but he has not yet made his choice,” Sunaid said.—AFP