A suicide bomber killed at least 33 people and injured 45 in Iraq today just hours before US Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a surprise visit to Baghdad, the BBC reports. The car blast, sparked by six barrels of explosives, toppled buildings, and officials say more bodies may be dug out of the rubble.
In Iraq for his seventh visit, Gates met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and General David Petraeus today. He plans to gauge the success of the US troop surge, now almost one year old, ahead of congressional meetings in April. Military officials will likely tell Gates the surge is working, but that military, political, and economic support is still needed, a BBC analyst says.