BAGHDAD — A car bomb left at least 14 people dead in the capital on Friday, while U.S. troops chasing extremists in one of their last remaining bastions in central Iraq said they killed five al-Qaida gunmen.
In Baghdad, police claimed to have uncovered a weapons cache on property owned by the son of Adnan al-Dulaimi, one of Iraq's most influential Sunni politicians. His son, Maki Adnan al-Dulaimi, was jailed one month ago for his alleged involvement with some car bombs found at his father's Baghdad compound.
The midday explosion in Tayaran Square _ a predominantly Shiite area that has been targeted by insurgents in the past _ came just after Friday prayers. The downtown square is crowded with falafel and other food stands, and is popular with people hawking second hand and cheap clothes. In late May, a car bomb killed 23 people in the square.
The bombing, one of the most violent in recent days, comes at a time when residents of Baghdad have slowly been emerging from their homes following a significant dip in violence since June.
A surge by almost 30,000 U.S troops, a cease-fire declared by radical Shiite extremist Muqtada al-Sadr, and the growth of anti-al-Qaida in Iraq groups in Anbar province, Baghdad and elsewhere has reduced violence by 60 percent, according to the U.S. military.
One of the few remaining hot spots is Diyala province just north of Baghdad, where many Islamic extremist have fled. The U.S. military said it had killed four heavily armed gunmen tied to al-Qaida in Iraq in an operation near Muqdadiyah in Diyala. Another was killed in a predominantly Sunni area south of Baghdad.
"These operations are examples of our continued success against al-Qaida," said Maj. Winfield Danielson, a spokesman for the U.S.-led Multinational Forces. "Iraqi and coalition forces are disrupting (al-Qaida) operations and diminishing their pool of manpower, but they still pose a threat to innocent Iraqis."
Iraqi police reported that militants killed five Iraqis, including a police officer, in separate attacks around the Diyala capital of Baqouba.
In the raid on a property owned by Maki Adnan al-Dulaimi, Iraqi forces reportedly found guns, bombs and explosives underneath a chicken coop. Al-Dulaimi's father Adnan heads the Sunni Arab Accordance Front, a three-party alliance that has 44 parliamentary seats.
Two Iraqi police officials involved in the operation said they found 80 mortars, 60 grenade launchers, six hand grenades, two sniper rifles, hundreds of boxes of bullets and ten bombs used in cars, as well as fuses and wires used for explosives. The officials declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Sunni lawmaker Asmaa Adnan al-Dulaimi, Maki's sister, said the reports were baseless. The U.S. military said they did not have any operational reports on the incident.
U.S. and Iraqi troops arrested al-Dulaimi on Nov. 30 after a gunman they were pursuing fled to the offices of his father.
Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, the chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, said he was arrested after confessions by guards arrested after the pursuit.
Al-Moussawi said two car bombs were discovered at the al-Dulaimi's office compound. The U.S. said one vehicle rigged as a suicide car bomb was found on the street outside the compound, and one of al-Dulaimi's security guards had the keys.
Associated Press reporter Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report.