BAGHDAD — A deadly explosion in Baghdad's Shiite district of Kadhemiyah on Wednesday was the second in a row in the same area and occurred on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein's government.
A bomb placed under a vendor's stand went off at about 11 a.m. on Bab al Dirwaza Street, a busy commercial alleyway where merchants peddle clothes and shoes. A well-known Shiite shrine stands nearby.
The explosion killed seven people and wounded 23, police said. Tuesday's car bomb killed at least eight people and wounded 20 more.
Iraq, and Baghdad in particular, has witnessed a steady uptick in explosions in recent weeks. On Monday a series of seven bombings killed dozens.
Some Iraqis have speculated that this week's violence is the work of Baathists still loyal to Saddam Hussein. Thursday marks the sixth anniversary of the fall of his regime and the day his statue was torn down in Baghdad's Firdous Square.
"It is clear they are targeting the Shiite areas," said Mohammed Mahdi, a 20-year-old merchant who witnessed Wednesday's explosion. "These things are done by the Baathists, for revenge."
Other witnesses blamed Iraq's new government. "If the politicians are all still disagreeing, how will we have peace?" asked 18-year-old Mohammed Salman.
Another bystander, Ehsan Hadi, 32, said he thinks that Iraq's security forces aren't prepared to protect the people. "In general the security forces are not good enough," he said. "Their training is weak."
A baby boy who survived Tuesday's explosion has been placed in his uncle's custody, witnesses told McClatchy Wednesday. Both the child's parents are thought to have died in the violence.
The child's rescue was widely reported by Western media, though accounts differed as to exactly where he was found and who rescued him.
Two different men claim to have saved the child, but witnesses refuted both of the men's claims, saying that another man wounded in the explosion pulled the baby from the wreckage.
One thing is certain, however: The 6-month-old, named Qais, is safe.
(Hammoudi is a McClatchy special correspondent. Reilly reports for the Merced Sun-Star.)
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