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Fourteen killed in Iraq as violence rages on

June 10, 2006

Fourteen killed in Iraq as violence rages on

By Fredrik Dahl and Michael Georgy

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Bombs killed nine people in Baghdad and gunmen shot dead five butchers in Mosul on Saturday, as U.S. President George W. Bush warned that killing al Qaeda's leader in Iraq would not end violence. 

Bush said U.S. and Iraqi forces will capitalise on the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by cracking down on insurgents trying to regroup after losing their leader, blamed for some of Iraq's bloodiest attacks since the U.S. invasion in 2003. 

Iraqi soldiers secure the scene of a car bomb attack, which killed five people and wounded 14 others in central Baghdad June 10, 2006. (REUTERS/Kareem Raheem)
"Coalition and Iraqi forces are seizing this moment to strike the enemies of freedom in Iraq at this time of uncertainty for their cause," he said in a weekly radio address. 

But Bush, signalling that the United States was not ready to start scaling back its military presence of 130,000 troops despite Wednesday's killing of the Jordanian militant, also warned that violence may get worse in coming weeks. 

"Zarqawi is dead, but the difficult and necessary mission in Iraq continues," he said. 

"In the weeks ahead, violence in Iraq may escalate. The terrorists and insurgents will seek to prove that they can carry on without Zarqawi," Bush said. 

Zarqawi, a Sunni Muslim who had a $25 million bounty on his head, was blamed for a series of attacks on Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim majority igniting a wave of reprisals that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war. 

His followers have vowed to carry on with the violent campaign after his death in a U.S. air raid north of Baghdad. 

TRAFFIC BAN LIFTED 

Two separate bombings killed at least nine people in downtown Baghdad and wounded more than 40, after the government lifted a daytime traffic ban it imposed on Friday amid fears of al Qaeda reprisals for the Zarqawi killing. 

A roadside bomb struck a busy market in a predominantly Shi'ite Muslim area of the capital, killing three people. 

"A bomb was left in a plastic bag here and many people were wounded, including a child," said a boy standing near the site. 

Insurgents often mount such attacks as part of a campaign to topple the U.S.-backed, Shi'ite-led government. 

A few hours later, a car bomb in a mixed area killed six people and wounded 18, including three policemen. 

In the northern city of Mosul, gunmen shot dead five butchers in their neighbouring shops, police sources said. It's not clear why the butchers were killed but a wide range of Iraqis are being targeted in the violence. 

In the latest in a string of gruesome discoveries, police in volatile Diyala province -- where Zarqawi was killed -- said they found the severed heads of two Sunni brothers in the small town of Khan Bani Saad, a week after they were kidnapped. 

The U.S. military took reporters to the site where Zarqawi was killed in an air strike in the village of Hibhib, about 70 km north of Baghdad. 

Looking over the rubble of the house where the country's most wanted man may have been plotting more suicide bombs, an Iraqi soldier said he felt a great sense of relief. 

"I feel good. Zarqawi is dead. Thank you America," said Adel Hussein, 33, a resident of the area. 

The remains of Zarqawi's "safe house" indicated that he and his companions -- which an Iraqi army officer said included two women and an 8-year-old girl -- lived with few luxuries. 

At the isolated site ringed by palm groves, two thin foam mattresses were scattered among the debris of smashed concrete and twisted metal. 

One leaflet identified a radio station in Latifiya south of the capital as an apparent target. Also beside the slabs of concrete was a woman's leopard-print nightgown. 

The U.S. military has said the air strike killed a total of six people, three males and three females, and that mortally wounded Zarqawi was still alive when U.S. troops reached the site but died shortly afterwards. 

A spokesman said on Saturday that Zarqawi's body was now in a "secure location" and that two U.S. military doctors had been flown in to Iraq to carry out an autopsy. 

(Additional reporting by Ibon Villelabeitia in Baghdad and by Matt Spetalnick in Washington) 

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