Bombs plague Iraq as leader flies to U.S.

The Associated PressJuly 22, 2009 

— Bombs killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens in Iraq on Tuesday in a sign that insurgents, though weakened, remain intent on destabilizing a country that is struggling to consolidate U.S.-backed security gains.

Children, shoppers and men looking for work were among the dead in attacks in Baghdad, Ramadi and Baqubah, cities that saw intense fighting but had lately experienced sharp drops in violence. U.S. combat troops completed a pullout from urban areas June30, and Iraqi forces now take the lead in securing the cities.

The violence came as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to Washington for a meeting today with President Barack Obama, who plans to withdraw all American soldiers from Iraq by the end of 2011 and is shifting military resources to the war in Afghanistan. There was no indication that insurgents timed the attacks to coincide with the U.S. meeting, though they have in the past carried out operations around politically significant dates.

One of al-Maliki's goals is to convince U.S. investors that oil-rich Iraq is an attractive place to do business. However, continuing attacks, even at a relatively low pace, could hurt the prime minister's efforts.

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