BAGHDAD — A car bomb ripped through the Shiite district of Kadhemiyah Tuesday, killing eight people and wounding 20 just a day after string of bombings left 32 dead and more than 130 wounded in the Iraqi capital.
An infant survived, but no one knew its name or age, whether its mother had survived her wounds, or whether the dead driver in the black car was its father.
Abu Haider, who sells parts and accessories for motorbikes, told McClatchy he'd rescued the child. He was in his shop when the explosion knocked him to the ground. Through the flames, haze and destruction, he spotted the crying child lying on the pavement near the baby's mother, who was wounded and bleeding profusely. He grabbed the infant and took it to a nearby home for safety and ran back to save the mother. But Iraqi Security Forces blocked the way.
Abu Haider, 40, was embittered. "It's a scandal what the security forces did. Why didn't they let us save the woman?"
Never miss a local story.
A McClatchy reporter, who arrived at the scene half an hour after the bombing, saw the vehicle, damaged by shrapnel and the windows shattered.
Burned out cars and broken glass littered the street outside Abu Haider's shop Tuesday afternoon, and the infant, held in the arms of a man standing outside his home, was still wailing.
Residents had helped the wounded to the hospital, U.S. and Iraqi soldiers were moving through the streets, and the dead were carted off to the morgue. It isn't clear what will happen to the baby, now in the care of strangers.
It's likely that the driver killed in the explosion was the infant's father, as the mother and child had been sitting in the front passenger seat. No other details were known about the family.
"Is this the national reconciliation that Mr. Maliki talks about?" asked Haider, referring to Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. "He must look for the Baathists and punish them," a reference to supporters of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
Shiites in the neighborhood saw the attack as a crime against Shiites.
Fadhil Hussein, 55, crossed the street and heard the boom. The car burst into flames where he'd been standing seconds before.
"I would be dead," he said. "This is a clear targeting of the Shiites.
As the neighborhood began to recover from the shock, President Barack Obama landed in Baghdad on an unannounced visit.
On the same day, Iraq's high court Tuesday reduced to one year the prison sentence of Muntathar al Zaidi, a television journalist who hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush during his last visit to Baghdad, shouting: "This is a farewell kiss, you dog."
The journalist, who many Iraqis regard as a hero, was sentenced last month to three years.
"He didn't want to kill the president," said his lawyer, Dhia al Saadi. "It was only an expression to humiliate him.
Also on Tuesday, an unknown gunman killed Falah Mohammed Younis, a newly elected member of the council in Nineveh province, at his doorstep in Mosul after he returned from evening prayers. He was a member of the Hadbaa list, a nationalist party that's known as anti-Kurdish. The party won control of the mostly Arab Nineveh province in recent elections. Prior to the elections, the Kurds had control.
In Iskandiriyah, south of Baghdad, the Iraqi Army found the bullet-riddled corpse of a member of the U.S.-backed, mostly Sunni militias that recently came under Iraqi government control. The U.S. military had paid the men to switch sides and help calm some of the hotbeds of the Sunni insurgency, but the Iraqi government, after taking control of the militias, has arrested a number of top leaders.
And outside Fallujah, a white and orange taxi rigged with explosives targeted Saad Abu Qutaiba, a high ranking of member of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki's support councils. The support councils are tribal groups paid by Maliki. Abu Qutaiba was badly wounded, a policeman was killed and eight other people were wounded.
(Hammoudi is a McClatchy special correspondent. McClatchy special correspondent Hussein Kadhim contributed to this article.)
MORE FROM MCCLATCHY