Friday: 37 Iraqis Killed, 156 Wounded

Updated at 7:35 p.m. EDT, July 31, 2009

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that improving conditions might allow for a slightly accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops, but a coordinated series of prayer day bombings at Baghdad mosques could undermine that position. Overall, at least 37 Iraqis were killed and 156 more were wounded across the country.

The State Department is looking into reports that three American hikers wandered into Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan and are now being held by Iranian authorities. Meanwhile, a Pentagon report warned that the Iraqi government’s slow pace in creating new jobs for Awakening Council members could jeopardize security gains. Back in Baghdad, a media watchdog group has warned that a new law drafted to protect journalists is really meant to curtail their freedoms.

In Baghdad, a bomb at a Shabb area mosque favored by Sadr supporters left 23 dead and 107 wounded. At almost the same time a bomb struck near Jisr Diyala, where the blast killed five worshippers and wounded 15 more. Two worshippers were killed and three more were wounded at a mosque in Kamaliyah. At a mosque in Zaafaraniya, a blast killed one worshipper and wounded six more. Two people were killed and four were wounded in a blast in Saidiya.

A car bomb at a Kirkuk marketplace killed two people and wounded 15 more.

In Mosul, gunmen threw a grenade at a home, where a married couple was killed and a woman and her son were injured.

Six Katyusha rockets were shot at the MNF base at Basra International airport. No casualties were reported there, but one of the rockets went astray and wounded four civilians at their home. Elsewhere in the province, 18 suspects were arrested and an I.E.D. was defused.

The situation at Camp Ashraf has stabilized, but residents want the return of American troops to protect them from Iraqi forces. U.S. military medical teams entered the camp late last night. They left with a handful of injured.

Four al-Qaeda suspects were arrested in Suwayra.

Police released 27 detainees in Ramadi when they could not prove charges against them.

Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for since 2006.