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Baghdad bus stop bomb kills 51

BAGHDAD, June 18 – A car bomb explosion at a busy bus stop in northern Baghdad  killed 51 people and left another 75 wounded, Iraqi police have said.

The explosion took place in the mainly Shia Muslim neighbourhood of Hurriya.

The bomb appeared to have been timed to go off during the early evening rush hour, when the bus stop was crowded with waiting passengers.

It is the deadliest bombing in Iraq’s capital for weeks, following a security drive by Iraqi and US forces.

Tuesday’s blast set fire to about 20 shops and razed a multi-storey building, security officials said.

The number of attacks by insurgents and sectarian factions has dropped significantly in Baghdad, although sporadic shootings and bombings have continued.

Some 500 Iraqis were killed last month, compared with more than 1,000 in April.

And the toll of American soldiers killed in May – at 19 – was the lowest monthly figure since the conflict began.

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The US military, which led an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s government five years ago, has repeatedly warned that security improvements are reversible.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has meanwhile ordered a crackdown on Shia militias in Baghdad and Basra and Sunni Arab insurgents in the north.

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