Attacks in Baghdad kill 8, wound 14

Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:41am EDT

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – At least eight people were killed and 14 were wounded in attacks on a market in a Shi’ite neighborhood of northwestern Baghdad on Wednesday, police said.

Iraq has seen a dramatic drop in violence over the past 18 months after Washington sent thousands of extra troops and built alliances with tribal leaders to battle a stubborn insurgency, but attacks are still common in Baghdad and ethnically and religiously mixed areas north of the capital.

Police said that rockets were fired at a market in the Shula district, followed by an attack by gunmen who stormed the market’s gold shops. The gunmen stole the merchant’s wares and threw grenades as they withdrew.

But Mazen al-Saadi, who manages the Shula office of the political movement loyal to anti-American Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, said no rockets had been fired and that the gunmen attacked using hand grenades.

Iraqi officials point to a recent spike in crime, and some security officers believe that there is a link between criminal gangs and the still-active insurgency.

In July, bank robbers staged a spectacular heist in Baghdad, making off with some $6.84 million and killing eight people. The thugs were arrested later.

(Writing by Jack Kimball; editing by Missy Ryan and Samia Nakhoul)

[original]

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