Two thunderous blasts set off by suicide bombers ripped through a crowded shopping street in the town of Balad Ruz in Diyala province on Thursday, killing at least 35 people and wounding at least 62 others, many of them seriously.
The first bomb was aimed at a wedding caravan that was driving through the neighborhood, said a security official in Balad Ruz, known for its restaurants and stores. The second bomb went off after the police and medical teams arrived.
One bomber was a woman wearing an explosives-filled vest, the security official said. The other was a man. The bombings took place in the early evening, when many people were shopping for food and other supplies before the start of the weekend. The attack came only hours after a car bomb in eastern Baghdad killed an American soldier and nine Iraqi civilians.
Clashes continued Thursday in the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad. American forces conducted airstrikes there on areas that military officials say are being used to fire rockets at the fortified Green Zone by militias that they say are being trained and supplied by Iran.
A delegation of Iraq’s senior Shiite leaders met Thursday in Tehran with the heads of Iranian security forces to express concerns about Iran’s role in arming and financing militia fighters. Haider al-Ibadi, a member of parliament from the prime minister’s Dawa Party, said the delegation was carrying with it hard evidence — “and it is a lot” — on Iran’s involvement “in our inner affairs.”
The delegation showed the Iranian security officials the evidence, al-Ibadi said, and the group was promised a meeting with Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Friday.
“We want to deliver to him the evidence,” al-Ibadi said.
American and Iraqi officials have said that the delegation was sent by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But Yaseen Majid, an adviser to him, said that the group was sent by parliament and that “it’s not a governmental delegation at all.”
The bombings in Balad Ruz, northeast of Baghdad, were the latest in a string of major attacks recently in Diyala province, a region that American officials have contended is considerably safer as a result of the joining of local forces, known as Awakening Councils, with American and Iraqi forces to fight insurgents.
Those attacks included one on April 16 in which a suicide car bombing in Baqouba killed at least 40 people, and another one on April 18 at the northeastern edge of the province that killed at least 30 people at a funeral.
Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim al-Rubaie, Diyala’s chief of security, said the bombers appeared to be “waiting for people to gather in order to cause more victims.”
Al-Rubaie said that his forces were trying their best to stop attacks but that Balad Ruz had a big market district and “we can’t put in every single street or shop a person who searches the people.”