Bomb strikes Shiite market in Baghdad, killing 69

Bomb strikes Shiite market in Baghdad, killing 69

Iraqi women gather at the scene of blast in Baghdad, that killed at least 62 people and wounding 150 others. AFP

A series of blasts this week have killed more than 160 people, as US and Iraqi officials warned they expected more violence before the US withdrawal from cities.

American troops already have begun pulling back from the joint bases that they occupied with Iraqi security forces as part of a counterinsurgency strategy aimed at clearing volatile areas and holding them.

The recent spike in violence has raised new concern about the ability of Iraqi forces to protect the people, but a US military spokesman insisted that American combat troops would be out of the cities by Tuesday as required by a security pact.

In the past, bombings in Shiite areas would be followed by mortar attacks against Sunni strongholds or execution-style killings that were the signature of Shiite militias.

The bomb, which was hidden under vegetables on a motorized pushcart, exploded about 7 pm yesterday, apparently timed to maximize casualties by striking shoppers buying food for their evening meal at the Mradi market.

Shrapnel was blown more than 600 yards away and some shops were set on fire, a police officer said.

An Interior Ministry official said 69 people were killed and 135 wounded.