At least 72 people were killed and scores wounded in a bombing on a market in eastern Baghdad's Shiite Sadr City slum, Iraqi police say. A motorcycle rickshaw loaded with explosives is thought to have caused the blast.
REUTERS - At least 62 people were killed by a bomb in a crowded market in Baghdad's sprawling slum neighbourhood of Sadr City on Wednesday, less than a week before US troops must pull out of Iraq's cities.
Another 150 people were wounded in the attack in the predominantly Shiite district of northern Baghdad at around 7 pm (1600 GMT), the central operational command, the military's headquarters for its Baghdad operations, said.
A motorcycle rickshaw loaded with explosives that were covered with fruit and vegetables caused a massive blast, with women and children among the casualties and dozens of market kiosks damaged.
The attacker jumped off the rickshaw in the middle of Mraidi market and managed to escape before the bomb was set off.
"The rickshaw was full of explosives, covered by vegetables," an interior ministry official said.
The market area was closed off by Iraqi security forces in the aftermath of the bombing.
"I heard a boom and saw a ball of fire," said 30-year-old father-of-two Najim Ali, who was shopping in the market when the bomb went off.
"I saw cars flying in the air because of the force of the explosion," he added, saying he fainted shortly after the attack and awoke to find himself in a nearby hospital.
Ali said he had seen wounded people waiting in the hospital's hallways, and added that there were not enough beds to deal with the number of wounded.
Wednesday's bombing was the latest bloody attack in the runup to the planned pullout of US troops from Iraqi cities, towns and villages by June 30, and takes the death toll for attacks carried out across Iraq in the past week to over 150.
"After hearing the explosion, I rushed to the market," 20-year-old Saif Mohammed said.
"I saw pieces of flesh and pools of blood... Explosions like this confirm that the Iraqi security forces are not able to protect the people from violence or war."
Smaller attacks also hit Iraq on Wednesday evening, interior ministry officials said -- one person was killed and 10 injured by a bomb in the western neighbourhood of Jihad at 8 pm, while four people were wounded by a blast in Saidiyah, south Baghdad, an hour later.
Seven civilians were injured by a grenade targeting a US patrol in the restive northern city of Mosul, local police said.
Violence has dropped markedly in Iraq in recent months, with May seeing the lowest Iraqi death toll since the 2003 invasion. But attacks remain common, particularly in Baghdad and Mosul.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned earlier this month that insurgents and militiamen were likely to step up their attacks in the coming weeks in a bid to undermine confidence in the Iraqi security forces.
But Maliki later told French daily Le Monde that Iraq would not call on US forces to take part in combat operations after they pull out.
General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, says the majority of his troops have already left Iraqi cities ahead of the deadline.
Wednesday's attack in Sadr City was the third major bombing in Iraq this month, after a June 20 truck bomb near the northern city of Kirkuk killed 72 people and wounded more than 200 in the deadliest attack in 16 months.
On June 10, a car bomb in a market in the largely peaceful province of Dhi Qar killed 19 people.
Date created : 2009-06-24