Iraq Bombs Targeting Homes Of Shiite Cleric and Sunni Militiaman Kill 1, Including 4 Teenagers

06/27/2012 08:22 am ET | Updated Aug 27, 2012

BAGHDAD -- Bombs targeting the homes of Shiite cleric and a member of a Sunni militia that fights al-Qaida killed at least 11 people, including four teenagers, Wednesday in Baghdad as extremists ramp up attacks in Iraq.

The attacks on two of al-Qaida's favorite targets bring Iraq's death toll for June to at least 186, making it the bloodiest month since January, when at least 255 were killed. That surge in violence was widely seen as an attempt to undermine the Iraqi government after the last American troops withdrew in mid-December.

The first blast at about 7 a.m. blew out the front wall of the home of a Shiite cleric who was prominent in the southeastern suburb of Wahda, damaging surrounding houses, police and witnesses said. The explosives appeared to have been planted just outside the home.

Neighbor Nasir Luaibi, awakened from the explosion, rushed to the scene with family members to help but a second explosion at the site minutes later killed his cousin and wounded three of his nephews.

"We tried to search for survivors when the second blast came," said Luaibi, a 50-year-old day laborer.

A police official said the attack killed eight people, including the cleric's teenage son and daughter, and wounded 19. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. Hospital officials confirmed the deaths.

Another neighbor, Sattar Hassan, was hit in the leg by shrapnel from the second bomb as he searched the debris of the house.

"I fell down and screamed for help," he said from Zafaraniyah hospital where many of the wounded were taken. He said he did not know why his neighbors' house was targeted. "They are nice people who have no quarrel with anybody."

Shiite Muslims in particular have been targeted by recent attacks in Iraq, which authorities have blamed on al-Qaida-linked Sunni militants.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, another bomb exploded just outside the home of a member of a local Sunni militia, killing the man's wife and two teenage daughters, police and hospital officials said.

The man is in the Sahwa, or Sons of Iraq, a Sunni militia that was instrumental in turning the tide against al-Qaida during the country's worst violence. He was not at home during the attack and was unharmed, said a police officer who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to release the information.

Six months after the last American troops left the country, the violence has set back government efforts to provide security and basic services like electricity, despite years of assistance from the U.S., billions of dollars in foreign aid and the country's oil wealth.

While wholesale violence has dropped dramatically since the peak of sectarian fighting in 2006-2008, analysts say the militants' recent campaign shows they have been emboldened by government divisions, weak Iraqi security and the absence of international forces.

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