BAGHDAD - The U.S. military reported the deaths of seven more soldiers yesterday, while Sunni insurgent bombers struck yet another market in a predominantly Shiite district, killing at least 13 people in their bid to terrorize Baghdad days before a U.S.-Iraqi military crackdown.
The latest market attack capped a week in which more than 150 people, mostly Shiites, were slain in bombings.
Death squads, believed to be primarily Shiite militiamen, continued their butchery on the other side of Iraq's deepening sectarian divide, with police reporting the discovery of 40 bodies dumped in Baghdad alone. Two of the victims were women, and most of the bodies showed signs of torture, police said.
In all, at least 61 victims of Iraq's sectarian warfare were killed or found dead across the country.
Of the seven American service members reported dead yesterday, two were killed in Diyala province northeast of the capital on Friday, three in an unspecified location north of Baghdad yesterday and two in eastern Baghdad on Thursday.
The latest reported deaths raised to at least 3,079 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
U.S. air strikes killed 14 insurgents and destroyed a safe house for foreign fighters during a raid south of Baqubah, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. Two suspects were captured, the military said.
The Americans said the raid targeted a foreigner they believed responsible for a series of attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces in the extremely violent Baqubah region. The military there has been caught in the midst of some of the bloodiest sectarian fighting of the war.
Yesterday's bombings in Baghdad employed what has become a classic insurgent tactic. First a suicide car bomber drove into the crowded market stalls in the busy New Baghdad commercial area shortly after noon, detonating his explosives among the stores and kiosks selling food, clothes, household appliances and birds.
As people rushed to help the victims, a parked car bomb exploded. The 13 killed included two policemen; four officers were among the 42 wounded, police said.
Farooq Haitham, the 33-year-old owner of a watch repair shop, said the area had been targeted by bombers before but shopkeepers had no choice but to keep opening their doors.
"What can we do? We want to live. We need the money so we come to work," Haitham said.
It was the latest in a series of attacks against commercial targets, in which more than 150 people have died since last Sunday. The attacks signal a tough battle ahead as U.S. and Iraqi forces prepare for the security operation, a third bid to pacify the capital since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took power on May 25.
The week's deadliest attack killed 88 people Monday when a suicide car bomber crashed into a market in the central neighborhood of Bab al-Sharqi.
In central Baghdad yesterday, police said armed men in police commando uniforms and driving cars with license plates commonly used by the Interior Ministry raided a computer shop in a Christian section of the Sina'a neighborhood. They took away four employees and three customers.
Two mortar shells also slammed into a residential district in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Hurriyah, police said, killing two people and wounding seven others.