SAMEER N. YACOUB
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Two car bombs went off Sunday in the Iraqi city of Basra, killing nine and wounding 24 in a rare attack in the Shiite-dominated south of the country.
All nine deaths resulted from a blast near an outdoor market, said Ali Ghanim, the head of the security committee in the Basra provincial council. He said 19 were wounded in that explosion.
Fifteen minutes earlier, five people were wounded when another car bomb went off near a parking lot near the Tax Department in the port city's downtown, said Ghanim.
Oil-rich Basra is 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad.
Police and hospital officials confirmed the casualties. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.
Meanwhile, an al-Qaida-affiliated group in Iraq claimed responsibility for a carefully planned assault on the Justice Ministry in downtown Baghdad last week. The attack, involving car bombs and gunmen disguised as police, killed at least 24 people.
In a statement posted online on Sunday, the Islamic State of Iraq said the "blessed raid" was "vengeance for the Sunni women" held in the prisons of the Shiite-led government. It described the ministry building as a "tool to fight, terrorize, jail, torture and kill Sunnis."
The Thursday attack in downtown Baghdad came less than a week before the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, showing how vulnerable the country remains to insurgent attacks.
Associated Press Writer Sinan Salaheddin contributed to this report.
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