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Suicide bombers struck a market in northern Iraq and an Iraqi military checkpoint in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people, while an Iraqi general warned extremists that they will be "smashed under the foot of the Iraqi people" if they resist efforts to end the violence in the country.
In the worst attack, a man wearing an explosives belt strolled into an outdoor market in Tuz Khormato, 210 kilometers north of Baghdad, and blew himself up.
The blast occurred just before noon as the market was crowded with shoppers in the city, which has a mixed population with a slight majority of Turkomen. At least eight people were killed and 25 were wounded, police said.
Northern Iraq has seen a recent rise in violence that many blame on insurgents fleeing a security crackdown in the capital that began a month ago.
Shawan Saleh, a Kurd who owns a restaurant near the market, said he rushed to the site and saw bodies lying on the bloodstained pavement, six damaged shops and two burning cars.
"What is the guilt of the people who came to sell or buy fruit and vegetables. There were no military or policemen in the market. It was only innocent civilians. The insurgents want to kill as many as they can. They want to ease the pressure on their fellows in Baghdad."
In western Baghdad, meanwhile, a suicide car bomber slammed into an Iraqi army checkpoint in the Sunni neighborhood of Yarmouk , killing two civilians and wounding four others, police said.
Iraqi and U.S. authorities have pinned their hopes on the neighborhood-to-neighborhood sweep in Baghdad, which has seen a decline in execution-style killings, random shootings and rocket attacks, in large part because Shiite parties have been successful in persuading the Shiite militias to pull armed fighters off the streets to avoid a showdown with the Americans. But violence has been on the rise elsewhere.
The commander of the Baghdad security plan, Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar, warned Wednesday that all terrorists and outlaws "will be smashed with the foot of the Iraqi people" unless they reconsider their "position and return to logic before it's too late."
Qanbar also sought to reassure the capital's residents that the military is not discriminating in the crackdown, despite complaints by Sunnis that their neighborhoods have been unfairly targeted by the Shiite-dominated government.
He said the effort had made headway in ending the sectarian violence that surged following the Feb. 22, 2006, bombing of a Shiite mosque in Samarra.
"We've overcome the terrorist acts, militant groups, criminal gangs, sectarian killings and displacement," he said at a press conference in the heavily fortified Green Zone. "We've passed to the other side and members of our armed forces are hunting down the terrorists and criminal gangs on the ground and in their dens."
"But we have to expect more obstacles and terrorist acts," he said. "These acts will not end immediately, but we will go forward with our operations until we annihilate the terrorism."
The U.S. military also has stepped up its presence with more than 20,000 extra American troops sent to Baghdad and surrounding areas as part of the security bid, which many have warned is a last chance to quell the violence.
In a sign of the persistent Sunni resentment that is behind much of the violence, the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons and a grandson were exhumed and reburied near the ousted leader's grave in Ouja, his hometown north of Baghdad. Saddam was hanged on Dec. 30 and buried the next day in a grave chipped out of an interior floor of a building he had built for religious events.
Tribal officials said they decided to move the remains of Saddam's sons Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, and his 14-year-old grandson Mustafa - who died July 22, 2003, in a gunbattle with US troops in the northern city of Mosul - to keep all members of the family in one place.
Tribal chief Ali al-Nida and three other relatives accompanied the bodies as they were transferred Tuesday in three cars from the cemetery about two kilometers from the building in which Saddam is buried.
The three bodies were buried in the courtyard near the graves of Saddam's half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, who also were sent to the gallows in January for the killings of 148 Shiites in the town of Dujail in 1982.
The five burial mounds were covered with Iraqi flags as people prayed next to them during the service in Ouja, near the scene of Saddam's capture by American soldiers in December 2003.
In other violence Wednesday, according to police:
- A municipal council chief and three other people were shot to death as they were driving in the Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in Baghdad.
- Gunmen attacked a Sunni mosque in Iskandariyah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Baghdad. The mosque was severely damaged, it was empty and there were no casualties.