Iraq explosions kill 20

Three successive explosions killed 20 people and wounded more than 70 Sunday night in a mostly Shiite neighborhood in southern Baghdad, police said. The first blast occurred about 7:15 p.m. (11:15 a.m. EDT) when a rocket struck an apartment building in the Zafraniyah neighborhood, police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said.

About 10 minutes later, a car bomb exploded as police and bystanders rushed to the scene, he said. A bomb strapped to a motorcycle went off in the same area minutes later, he said.

First reports said eight people were killed in the rocket attack and 12 in the two other blasts, he said, adding that more than 70 were wounded.

The multiple attacks appeared part of the grisly pattern of Sunni-Shiite violence that American officials consider the greatest threat to Iraq’s stability more than three years after the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime.

U.S. commanders are sending nearly 12,000 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers into the capital to curb the surge of sectarian violence.

Earlier Sunday, the U.S. command announced that soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division had arrested a terrorist leader who was “directly linked” to a July 17 attack on an outdoor market in Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad.

At least 50 people, most Shiites, were killed when gunmen sprayed grenades and automatic weapons fire in the attack last month.