Back-to-back bombs kill at least 31 in Baghdad

A suicide bomber struck Monday in the middle of a crowd that was already rushing to help deal with an explosion moments earlier near a bus full of schoolchildren.

The toll from both blasts – at least 31 dead and 71 injured, according to the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

Also Monday, a female suicide bomber believed to be in her teens attacked a security checkpoint in downtown Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing five people including a local leader of Sunni group opposed to al-Qaida, police said. Fifteen other people were wounded in that explosion.

The twin Baghdad blasts – the deadliest in the city in months – occurred moments apart during the morning rush hour in the mostly Shiite Kasrah section of the Azamiyah district of the Iraqi capital.

Police said the first explosion damaged a minibus carrying young girls to school. The second happened when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt in the middle of a crowd that had gathered around the vehicle.

No group claimed responsibility for the blasts, the single deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital in weeks.

But suicide attacks against Shiite civilians are the hallmark of al-Qaida in Iraq, which maintains a limited presence in Baghdad despite military setbacks last year.

Violence has been down significantly in Baghdad since the worst of the Sunni-Shiite fighting in 2006 and 2007.