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Blasts Kill 18, Wound 53 In Central Baghdad

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- A car bomb and a second explosion soon after has killed six people and wounded 41 in central Baghdad as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was in town on a visit, Iraqi police said.

Police and traffic police were among the casualties in the explosions that shook the Nahdha neighborhood in Baghdad, near a traffic police station and a hospital, police said.

The number of attacks has dropped sharply in Iraq, where the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 unleashed years of sectarian bloodshed and insurgent violence. But car bombs, assassinations, and other violence are still routine.

Iraqi security forces, which are increasingly taking on responsibility for imposing order and going after militants as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw by the end of 2011, are frequent targets for insurgents. On December 15, nine police were killed in Baghdad in a suicide bomb attack.