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Iraq Transition

Deadly bombs hit Iraqi markets

Motorcycle bomb kills at least 18 in Baquba; six more die in Hilla
A hooded Iraqi policemen gestures for help for a wounded officer at a hospital in Baquba on Monday.



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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Bombs exploded in two crowded markets Monday, leaving at least 18 dead in one Iraqi city and six in another, police and Iraqi officials said.

A motorcycle packed with explosives detonated in the middle of a crowded market in Baquba, killing at least 18 people and wounding 20 others Monday evening, Iraqi police said.

The blast happened in a square surrounded by coffee shops and stores at 9:30 p.m. Monday, a time when many Iraqis were gathered there, police said.

The square is considered a Shiite holy place, and many of the victims were believed to be Shiite women and children. Baquba is about 65 miles north of Baghdad.

A short time earlier, a bomb exploded in a Hilla market, killing at least six people and wounding at least 56 others, police said.

Hilla is a mostly Shiite city about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

The attacks were the latest in a spate of bombing and shootings Monday that killed 14 others and wounded 16, Iraqi police said.

Also, a U.S. Marine died Monday after being wounded during "enemy action" in Iraq's Anbar province, the U.S. military said. This brings to 2,513 the number of U.S. military personnel who have died in the Iraq war, according to U.S. military reports. Seven American civilian contractors of the military also have died in the conflict.

In western Baghdad on Monday, police said a suicide bomber detonated a belt of explosives at a military checkpoint, killing two Iraqi police commandos. Two other commandos and two civilians were hurt in the blast, police said.

Gunmen targeted a convoy rolling through the Yarmouk section of southern Baghdad, police said, killing a bodyguard for one of Iraq's leading Sunni politicians, Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of the General Council for the People of Iraq.

Al-Dulaimi wasn't in the convoy, police said.

Also in Yarmouk, gunmen fired on an army checkpoint, killing two Iraqi soldiers and wounding another, police said.

In a dramatic kidnapping, armed men stormed a building in central Baghdad's Karada section and abducted 10 Iraqis, mostly students, police said.

To the north, in the Baghdad neighborhood of Amiriya, five Iraqi soldiers died in a car bomb explosion, according to police.

In the southern part of the capital, a roadside bomb blast killed a civilian and hurt five others in the New Baghdad neighborhood, police said.

In other violence in Baquba, two civilians died and one was wounded in the two separate gun assaults at a market, according to an official with the Diyala Joint Coordination Center:

Iraqi police rushing to the shooting scene at the market were hit by a roadside bomb, the official said. Three police officers and two civilians were wounded by the bomb, the official said.

Another bomb exploded outside a children's toy shop east of Baquba, the official said, wounding no one.

Other developments

  • A group linked to al Qaeda said it has killed four Russian diplomats it had held hostage, according to a statement and video on a Web site Sunday. The group -- the Mujahedeen Shura Council -- said it had beheaded three of the men and shot one to death. Russian officials were trying to verify the development.
  • U.S. senators on Sunday called Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's national reconciliation plan a positive step but expressed concerns about its "amnesty" provision. Al-Maliki's plan would extend an olive branch to some Iraqi militants and grant the phased release of 2,500 detainees from Iraqi prisons. (Watch violence temper hopes for plan -- 2:39)
  • CNN's Jomana Karadsheh in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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