Iraqi authorities have declared a curfew in the capital, after the bloodiest single attack since the US-led invasion in 2003. The authorities have ordered people off the streets until further notice and closed the airport. More than 160 people died and more than 250 were wounded, in co-ordinated bombings in Baghdad. Six car bombs went off in the Shi’ite neighbourhood of Sadr City, devastating a crowded market and several streets. At the same time, gunmen raided the Shi’ite led Health Ministry.
Mortars rained down afterwards on a Sunni enclave, in an apparent tit-for-tat attack. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki appeared on television, urging people to refrain from acts of passion. Kurdish, Sunni and Shi’ite leaders of the national unity government also went on TV, appealing for calm.
Sadr City is the stronghold of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sunnis say his militia lead death squads who work with the police. The violence takes place seven years to the day after Saddam Hussein’s agents killed the cleric’s father.