A twin bombing killed 18 people Thursday in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad -- the deadliest attack to rock Iraq since President Obama declared the full withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of the year.
Two police officials said the first explosion, at a music store shortly after 7 p.m., killed two people. The second bomb struck four minutes later, as rescue workers and others rushed to the scene, the officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Thirty-six people were wounded in the attack, according to a medic at Imam Hussein hospital.
Many Iraqis fear violence will increase when the U.S. troops leave the country, and insurgents have for months sought to exploit continued instability and security gaps that Iraqi forces have been unable to close. There are currently 39,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
"I stood outside my shop and saw burning cars and dead bodies on the ground," said Ahmed Jalil, 27, who owns a grocery near the attack site in Ur, a Shiite neighborhood in northeast Baghdad. "The situation was miserable, and I could see wounded people being loaded on police pickups," he said.
"Today's attack proves that the government's allegations that the security is under control are nothing but baseless allegations and that the tens of checkpoints scattered all over the capital are useless and a waste of resources," Jalil said.
Violence has dropped dramatically across Iraq since just a few years ago, when sectarian violence brought the nation to the brink of civil war. But deadly bombings and attacks still happen nearly every day, although death tolls are usually relatively low.
Iraqi security forces still rely heavily on the American military for intelligence, air support and surveillance.