A suicide car bomber struck a police crime lab in central Baghdad Tuesday, killing at least 21 people and injuring dozens a day after suicide attacks hit several hotels favored by Western journalists, officials said.

 The timing of the blast, a day after Iraq hanged Saddam Hussein’s cousin and stalwart “Chemical Ali,” prompted speculation that the latest attacks were retaliation by Sunni insurgents.

A suicide car bomber struck a police crime lab in central Baghdad Tuesday, killing at least 21 people and injuring dozens a day after suicide attacks hit several hotels favored by Western journalists, officials said.

 

The timing of the blast, a day after Iraq hanged Saddam Hussein’s cousin and stalwart “Chemical Ali,” prompted speculation that the latest attacks were retaliation by Sunni insurgents.

 

But the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, said he saw “absolutely no connection” between the bombings Monday that killed at least 41 people and the execution. The US military did not have any immediate comment on Tuesday’s bombing.

 

We didn’t turn Chemical Ali over until yesterday afternoon. … There was no way anybody could have known about that,” Odierno said Tuesday during a question-and-answer session with reporters in his office at Camp Victory, the sprawling US military headquarters on the outskirts of Baghdad.

 

This week’s bombings highlight a pattern of increasingly large and well-planned attacks on high-profile targets in the capital. They began with coordinated suicide attacks in August against the Foreign and Finance ministries that killed nearly 100 people. Since then, Baghdad has been hit repeatedly with major attacks every few months targeting government offices. Nearly 450 people have been killed in Baghdad since the August strike.

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