BAGHDAD // A bomb killed at least 72 people yesterday at a busy market in eastern Baghdad's Sadr City. The blast comes six days before US combat troops are due to withdraw from Iraqi towns and cities. About 127 people were wounded by the explosion in the poor, mostly Shiite area. A witness said the explosion tore through a part of the Mraidi Market where birds are sold, setting stalls ablaze.
Bloodshed has dropped sharply across Iraq in the past year, but militants continue to launch car and suicide bombings aimed at undermining the government and reigniting sectarian conflict. Yesterday's market bombing came four days after the US military formally handed control to local forces in Sadr City, where US and Iraqi forces fought fierce battles against Shiite militiamen in the spring of 2008.
Raad Latif, who owns a shop near the blast site, said the bomb appeared to have been on a trailer attached to a motorcycle. "The blast was very big and loud. After we heard it, we closed our shops and rushed to help the injured," Mr Latif said. Initially the security forces kept residents back to allow ambulances and police vehicles into the area, he said. "After a while they came to their senses and allowed us to help as much as we could ... the scene was horrific," he said.
The office of the Baghdad security spokesman said 62 people had died and 150 were wounded in the explosion. Three school students died in another bombing in Sadr City on Monday, one of a string of blasts that killed 27 people across Iraq that day. On Saturday, at least 73 people died in a suicide truck bombing outside a mosque in Kirkuk province. High death tolls remain common despite the fall in overall violence. Two female suicide bombers killed 60 people outside a Shiite shrine in the capital this April, just days before twin car bomb blasts killed 51 people in Sadr City.