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By Edward Yeranian
Cairo
27 December 2008

Site of car bombing in northern Baghdad Shi'ite neighborhood of Kazimiyah, 27 Dec 2008 <br />
Site of car bombing in northern Baghdad Shi'ite neighborhood of Kazimiyah, 27 Dec 2008
Iraqi police say a powerful car bomb exploded near a taxi and bus station in Baghdad's predominantly shi'ite neighborhood of Khadhimia, Saturday, killing 22 people and wounding 54.

US Army Captain Charles Calio confirmed that the explosion was the result of a car bomb, although initial reports said that several mortar rounds may have fallen in the Zahra Square region of Khadhimia.

A spokesman for Iraqi security operations in Baghdad, Major General Qassim Abbas Moussawi, says that the initial death toll rose as the day went on.

He says that initial reports from the explosion in Khadhimia put the death toll at five dead and 20 wounded, but the final toll rose to 22 dead and 54 wounded, according to reports that came to us from the Iraqi Ministry of Health - which gathers such statistics from local hospitals.

In a separate incident, an Iraqi soldier and two other people were killed in the town of Musayyib, when a car bomb that police were trying to defuse exploded. Two of the victims reportedly belonged to the local Sunni "Awakening Council" which has been fighting alongside U.S. forces to combat al-Qaida.

Violence in Iraq has subsided dramatically since last year, according to U.S. military reports, which indicate that there are 80 percent fewer attacks than at the same time last year.

Only about 10 attacks are being reported a day, down from 180 last year, the report says.

Interior Minister Jawad Boulani, speaking at the opening of an information center in Baghdad, insisted that the "sacrifices that Iraqi police and security forces have given in the past several years have contributed to making the country a safer place."

Car bombs, assassinations, suicide bombings and mortar attacks still occur in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, an indication that insurgents have still not given up the fight.

Ten days ago, two successive explosions, targeting Iraq's police academy, left 18 dead and 50 others wounded.

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