BAGHDAD - Bombs struck a cafe in Baghdad and remote communities in northern Iraq yesterday, killing at least 18 people, as the visiting Iranian foreign minister warned that Iraq's instability affected the whole region.
The blasts came just over a week after suicide truck bombers devastated the Foreign and Finance Ministries in Baghdad, killing about 100 people and dealing a blow to confidence in the Iraqi government's ability to protect the people as U.S. forces scale back their presence.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called on neighboring countries to play a positive role in helping stabilize Iraq. His comments took on added significance amid a diplomatic dispute between Iraq and Syria over demands that Damascus extradite suspected Saddam Hussein loyalists blamed for the Baghdad ministry bombings.
"The lack of stability and security in Iraq will definitely affect the region," Mottaki said at a news conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari. "All of Iraq's neighbors should work seriously and help Iraq in providing security and stability."
The Iraqi government has blamed an alliance of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Hussein loyalists it says are based in Syria for the Aug. 19 bombings and demanded that Damascus hand over two suspected plotters, raising tensions between the two countries.
Iraqi forces have stepped up security in Baghdad and other cities since the truck bombings. But attackers were still able to detonate an explosives-laden motorcycle near a cafe in an eastern section of the capital yesterday evening, killing at least two civilians and wounding 12, according to officials.