BAGHDAD, November 10 – At least 28 people were killed, including women and children, and dozens wounded in a double bombing in a Baghdad market on Monday, the deadliest attack to rock the Iraqi capital in weeks, security officials said.
The attackers first detonated a car bomb in the Sunni district of Adhamiyah, then minutes later a suicide bomber ran into the resulting melee and blew up, according to defence and interior ministry officials.
An interior ministry official said at least 68 were wounded in the rush-hour attack, the deadliest to hit Baghdad since June 17 when 51 people were killed and 75 wounded in a car bombing in the Al-Hurriya district.
Witnesses said the attack took place at about 8 am (0500 GMT) on a street lined with restaurants and coffee shops popular for breakfast with Iraqi security forces, as a bus carrying young girls to school drove past.
The US and Iraqi military cordoned off the area that was littered with glass and scorched cars as sobbing parents desperately searched for their daughters, an AFP reporter saw.
Among those killed were three policemen, three women and five children, police said.
The Medical City hospital received 37 wounded people, including several women and children and two Iraqi soldiers, a medic said.
Suicide attacks are usually the hallmark of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which continues to have a small presence in Baghdad despite major setbacks after repeated Iraqi and American military sweeps.
Adhamiyah itself, a Sunni neighbourhood tucked into the mostly Shiite eastern half of the city, saw fierce clashes at the height of Iraq’s sectarian violence but there has been a sharp reduction in attacks there over the last year.
Despite the dramatic improvement in security in large swathes of Iraq, including the capital, militants continue to launch near daily attacks, most of them targeting US and Iraqi security forces.
The US military says the capital has become much safer since the launch last year of a joint Iraqi-US security plan, averaging four attacks a day, 89 percent fewer than in 2006 and 83 percent less than in 2007.
According to the Iraqi military, the number of car bombings in Baghdad has declined sharply, falling from a total of 415 in 2006 to 61 so far in 2008, despite a string of attacks in the last week.