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Iraq Violence Continues After Triple Bombing

Police secure the area of the car bomb near Kirkuk today (epa) PRAGUE, December 3, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Funerals are scheduled in Baghdad today after more than 50 people were killed yesterday in a triple car bombing in a Shi'ite neighborhood.

Residents of the central Baghdad neighborhood, home mainly to Shi'a, wandered through the areas where the explosions happened as bulldozers and street sweepers cleared away the evidence of the carnage -- broken glass, smashed vending tables, and dried blood.

More than 3,700 Iraqi civilians were killed in November alone and yesterday's Baghdad bombings, coming just two days into December, seem to foreshadow similar hard times as the year comes to a close.

'Lots Of Dead And Wounded'

The coordinated car bombings occurred at nightfall on crowded shopping streets.

"Three cars exploded. Two were in Sadriyah and one was at al-Wathba Square in central Baghdad," Baghdad resident Khadum Sadun, who witnessed the blasts, said. "And there are lots dead and wounded."

On the streets of central Baghdad today, one woman vented the sadness that today afflicts scores of families in Iraq.

"We do not know what happened," she said. "We were inside our houses when [the blast] happened. All our sons were killed."

More than 90 people were injured in those explosions.

Today there was more violence. In the northern town of Lailan, near Kirkuk, a suicide bomber today killed three police officers at a checkpoint.

That followed overnight bombing by the U.S. military on a suspected insurgent hideout in the western Al-Anbar Governorate. The U.S. military said today that at least five insurgents were killed in that attack. Two women and a child were also killed in that bombing.

Waiting For Study Group Report

The spike in violence comes ahead of a report from the Iraq Study Group -- a high-level bipartisan panel of experts co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and former U.S. Congressman Lee Hamilton.

The group is due to give recommendations to U.S President George W. Bush on a change in strategy designed to more effectively combat insurgents and loyalists of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

A leaked memo from former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, written days before he resigned from office last month, noted that "it is time for a major adjustment" in strategy in Iraq.

"Clearly, what U.S. forces are doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough," Rumsfeld wrote.

Al-Maliki speaking at the November 30 press conference in Amman (epa)

Meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the Jordanian capital, Amman, on November 30, Bush indicated he and the Iraqi leader are aware of the security problem, but Bush said al-Maliki does not have all the resources needed to deal with the insurgency.

"He and I spent a lot of time talking about the security situation inside of Iraq," Bush said. "I expressed my concern about the security situation. He expressed his concern about the security situation. After all, one of his most important jobs is to provide security for the Iraqi people. Part of the prime minister's frustration is that he doesn't have the tools necessary to take care of those who break the law."

At a joint press conference with Bush, al-Maliki hinted that people outside the country are causing some of the problems in Iraq.

Al-Maliki said Iraq's "borders should be secure so that nobody can interfere in our national affairs."

Iraq borders Iran and Syria, both of which are at odds with Washington's policies in the region.

Sectarian Iraq

Sectarian Iraq

Click to enlarge the image.

SUNNI, SHI'A: Iraq is riven along sectarian lines, faults that frequently produce violent clashes and are a constant source of tension. Sectarian concerns drive much of Iraqi politics and are the main threat to the country's fragile security environment.

THE COMPLETE PICTURE: Click on the image to view RFE/RL's complete coverage of events in Iraq and that country's ongoing transition.