Violence in Iraq Ahead of U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Cities

Bombings continue as transition of power nears

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    The security of Iraq's urban residents will largely be in the hands of national police when U.S. combat troops depart many cities and towns this week.

    Bombings continue to shake Baghdad despite beefed up security ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from cities in Iraq this week.

    The violence that killed 250 people in eight days has muddied plans to celebrate the troops' departure June 30 from the capital and other cities as part of an agreement to pull out American military personnel by 2011.

    "They're trying to use this time frame and this date to first gain attention for themselves," Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told CNN. "And also to divert attention from the success of the Iraqi security forces."

    Intense sandstorms that shut down airports also aided insurgents with two bombings that took place Sunday, just two days before Iraqi police take control of most urban areas in the country, the Associated Press reported.

    One roadside bomb targeting U.S. troops wounded five bystanders and another car bomb detonated in the parking lot of a Baghdad police academy killed an officer and wounded six more. These attacks bring the death toll to more than 250 in the past eight days as insurgents try to derail the planned transfer of power.

    Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government declared June 30 a public holiday dubbed "National Sovereignty Day," according to the AP.

    Iraqi forces will have full control of security on the June 30th deadline, but roughly 130,000 U.S. troops will remain in the country until September as emergency back up and trainers, according to the New York Times.

    A spokesman for the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front, Salim al-Jubouri, said in a statement that Tuesday will mark "an important turning point on the civilian, security and political levels, and this is the feeling shared by all Iraqis."

    Following three separate bombings that involved motorcycles and killed over 100 people last week, all motorcycles are banned from Baghdad streets and security points and increased security are stationed at checkpoints.