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At Least 40 Civilians, Security Force Recruits Reported Slain

By Richard A. Oppel Jr.
THE NEW YORK TIMES


BAGHDAD, IRAQ

At least 40 Iraqi civilians and security force recruits were either killed or found murdered on Monday, the Iraqi authorities said, as insurgents unleashed a wave of car bombs across Baghdad.

Throughout the capital, seven car bombs struck, killing at least 10 people and wounding 76 others. Their targets were the back gate of Mustansiriya University, two Iraqi police patrols and a busy intersection at rush hour. All of the dead were civilians.

At least 15 other Iraqis died across the country, the victims of by drive-by assassinations, bombs and mortar fire, according to an Associated Press tally from the police.

The bullet-riddled corpses of 15 recruits for a special Interior Ministry unit trying to help calm the restive city of Ramadi were found in the backs of pickup trucks in Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, a ministry official said. Later on Monday, Iraqi officials said they had reports that the bodies of 17 other security force recruits were found in a similar slaying 60 miles west of Ramadi.

By some measure, the scene here was reminiscent of a period about a year ago, when Sunni Arab insurgents mounted coordinated car bomb attacks across the capital and killed scores of Iraqis in an attempt to destabilize and intimidate the country’s infant interim government.

At the time, the prime minister-designate — Ibrahim al-Jaafari — was struggling to name a cabinet, a harbinger of what many Iraqi officials came to describe as weak and unappealing leadership that became almost powerless to deal with a sophisticated insurgency and growing sectarian fighting.

Perhaps trying to stem any repeat of the sense of precariousness that dominated Baghdad last April, the new prime minister-designate, Jawad al-Maliki, chosen just two days ago, confidently predicted on the state-run television that he would have a new cabinet in place in just 15 days — half the time accorded him under the new constitution.

And in a CNN interview, he vowed to fix the main problem facing the country: “a torn relationship in the Iraqi community with all of the sectarian and ethnic backgrounds.” He also pledged to undo what he called the “state of misunderstanding that was spread in the last period.”