A series of mortar barrages killed eight civilians and wounded 25 others early yesterday in a Sunni neighborhood in central Baghdad, police said, while a strategic bridge was damaged by a bomb in northern Iraq.
The mortars began slamming into the Fadhil area in Baghdad at 1:30am and continued sporadically until 7am, damaging five houses, a policeman said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to deal with the media.
At least one woman and one child were among the eight dead, he said.
Fadhil is a Sunni enclave in the Shiite-dominated area east of the Tigris River dividing Baghdad. Baghdad's Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods frequently exchange mortar and other fire in Iraq's continuing sectarian conflict.
Elsewhere in the capital, residents in the Sunni neighborhood of Amariyah remained under curfew as US and Iraqi troops sought to maintain calm in the area after fierce clashes between rival insurgent groups and al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Firas al-Azzawi, a 32-year-old father of two, said he has kept his electronics shop closed since the clashes began earlier this week.
He said people were converging on the few stores that were open to buy food, including one grocer who brought in fresh vegetables from Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, by loading them in handcarts from a vehicle that wasn't allowed to enter the area.
"The grocer was selling one kilogram of each kind of vegetable to each individual because there was not enough for everyone who were waiting in a line to buy," al-Azzawi said, adding the schools had been open and students were able to take their exams.
In northern Iraq, a bomb heavily damaged the Sarhat Bridge, a vital link on a major road connecting Baghdad with northern Iraq, including the Kurdish cities of Irbil and Sulaimaniya, as well as Tikrit and Kirkuk, police said.
Small cars were still able to cross the bridge with difficulty but the damage caused by the explosion was forcing trucks to take a more dangerous route through Sunni cities and the volatile Diyala Province, police Brigadier General Sarhat Qadir said.
A US helicopter also was forced to make a precautionary landing north of Baghdad yesterday, but nobody was injured, military spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Josslyn Aberle said.
The aircraft, which went down in the volatile Diyala Province, was being recovered, and the reason for the precautionary landing was under investigation, she added, declining to give more specifics due to security concerns.
The incident came five days after two US soldiers were killed when their OH-58 scout helicopter was shot down in Diyala, which has been the scene of fierce fighting between militants and US forces in recent months. Six other US troops were killed in an insurgent roadside bomb ambush as they raced to the site of the crash on Monday.
The US military, meanwhile, reported another soldier was killed in a roadside bombing on Wednesday in Baghdad, raising to at least 127 the number of US troop deaths in May, the third-deadliest month for forces since the war started in March 2003. It followed April 2004, when 135 Americans died and November 2004 with 137.