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Series Of Large-Scale Bombings Kills Scores In Iraq

An Iraqi police officer moves debris off the main road following a double explosion in the Sadr City district of Baghdad.
(RFE/RL) -- Police in Iraq say up to 41 people have been killed and another 80 wounded in the latest suicide bomb attacks in civilian areas.

Most of the casualties resulted from two blasts in the northern town of Tal Afar, between Mosul and the Syrian border.

One bomber detonated his charge outside a court building. The second explosion came in the same place as people rushed to help the injured from that blast.

The mostly ethnic Turkoman town in Nineveh Province is no stranger to sudden death in the streets. It was the scene in 2007 of one of the worst single bombings since the U.S.-led invasion, when some 150 people were killed.

Even though they didn't claim so many victims, the latest bombings, were still among the most deadly since the United States pulled back thousands of troops from Iraq cities and handed over security responsibilities to Iraq forces.

And it was not an isolated incident. In nearby Mosul on July 8, two car bombs killed 12 people and wounded dozens more.

Cruelly, two people also died on July 9 when a wedding party was bombed outside the groom's house near the capital, Baghdad.

And in Baghdad's Sadr City, at least six more were killed by bombs hidden in a busy market.

"This is a cowardly and criminal act, targeting innocent people who are not guilty," one local resident said. "The parties that stand behind the attack are seeking to destabilize the security situation."

The wave of bombings in the weeks surrounding the U.S. troop withdrawal has caused the death of hundreds of people, mostly civilians. The death toll for June alone stands at 437, the highest total in a year.

Both U.S. and Iraqi officials had warned the public to expect an increase in the rate of bombings coinciding with the U.S. pull-back, as insurgents try to create an impression of impending chaos.

Hussain Atrish, head of Tal Afar's town council, says insurgents are trying to reverse efforts to heal divisions between Sunnis and Shi'a in the religiously and ethnically mixed area.

No U.S. Mediation

Sunni insurgents, backed by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, have had a difficult time since the United States launched its troop "surge", and the overall rate of violence has fallen significantly. Many Iraqi Sunnis have given up their fight, as is indicated by a report just issued showing that foreigners now represent a bigger proportion of insurgents than previously.

In view of the fragile situation, the United States has offered to help to defuse tensions between Iraq's various factions. Vice President Joe Biden was in Iraq last week, and he urged reconciliation among Iraqis.

"President Obama asked me to return to Iraq with a very, very clear message: The United States is committed to Iraq's progress and Iraq's success," Biden said.

But the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has declined that offer. Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on July 4 that what he called "interference" by other parties would only lead to complications.

He said U.S. leaders must realize that the Iraqis have a common desire to solve their problems together.

with news agency material