Bomb kills five, injures 16 close to Baghdad cafe

BAGHDAD – A bomb attached to a motorcycle exploded Sunday near a popular cafe in a largely Sunni district of Baghdad killing five people, Iraqi police said.

The blast in Baghdad’s Azamiyah district also injured 16 civilians, an officer at the al-Risafa police station said. Officials at two hospitals that received the wounded said most of the injured were young men.

The policeman and hospital officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Baghdad’s northern Azamiyah district was a Sunni stronghold during sectarian violence in the Iraqi capital in 2006 and 2007. But as in other parts of the city, violence has eased considerably since then and residents have resumed going to sidewalk cafes and dining in riverside restaurants.

Attacks have not halted entirely, however, and militants still strike mosques, markets and symbols of state authority with deadly force.

In August, two truck bombs were detonated at ministry buildings in Baghdad, killing more than 100 people and wounding hundreds. The attacks sharply undermined Iraqis’ confidence in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s security policy ahead of parliamentary elections in January.

The summer’s deadly bombings in the capital also heightened fears about the abilities of Iraqi security forces to protect the people in the aftermath of U.S. troops’ pull out from the country’s urban centers, with plans to fully withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011.

Scattered violence has continued around the country.

The recent violence is sure to be on the agenda when al-Maliki meets with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden next week. Al-Maliki’s trip to the United States was designed to coincide with an investor conference in Washington, D.C., that aims to drum up interest in Iraq’s still-fragile economy.