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Baghdad blasts, minutes apart, kill 3

Four U.S. Marines die in two roadside bombings

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Iraqi soldiers walk by a car damaged in a Baghdad bombing on Tuesday.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two bombs exploded only minutes apart Tuesday in a central Baghdad market, killing at least three people and wounding 20 others, Iraqi emergency police said.

The first bomb exploded near market stands selling religious accessories for the upcoming Shiite religious holy day of Ashura. Two civilians were wounded in the initial attack.

"I was standing near the vendor who was targeted," merchant Ali Abdul Mohsen Karim told The Associated Press. "He had a television set showing a film on the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and then the explosion happened."

The second bomb exploded 10 minutes later, killing three civilians and wounding 18 other people, including four police.

Double bombings are often used by attackers to target emergency personnel or police who respond to the scene of a first explosion.

Ashura marks the 7th century death of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

Hussein was killed in Karbala, now a Shiite holy city south of Baghdad. His defeat in battle was one of the events that helped create the schism between Sunnis and Shiites, the two main Muslim religious movements.

To honor his death, many pilgrims wear black and flog themselves with chains during Ashura, which is Thursday.

Last year, dozens died in attacks coinciding with the Ashura period. In 2004, more than 180 died when explosions in Baghdad and Karbala targeted pilgrims.

Four U.S. Marines killed

Four U.S. Marines have died in two attacks in Anbar province, according to U.S. military statements.

Three Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit died Monday in a roadside bomb attack in Hit, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad.

The fourth Marine died Sunday in another roadside bombing during combat and was with 2nd Marines.

With the deaths, 2,256 U.S. service members have died in the Iraq war -- 14 in February.

Other developments

  • An attack on a police checkpoint in central Baquba killed one officer and wounded four civilians, an official with Diyala Joint Coordination Center said Tuesday.
  • On Monday night, gunmen threw a grenade at a home then opened opened fire, wounding six people in Abu Gharma, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad.
  • U.S. and Iraqi soldiers have captured weapons and insurgent propaganda in western Iraq, the U.S. military said Tuesday. On Sunday, troops recovered some detonators for homemade bombs, rockets and launchers, 75 propaganda cassette tapes and video cameras, the military said.
  • A top Sunni Arab leader, Salih al-Mutlag, said he was able to reach an agreement with Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, a Shiite, to ease up on random sweeps and detentions. Some Sunnis say they have been mistreated during raids and in detention by members of the Iraqi police, which is run by the Interior Ministry.
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