Iraqis are counting the cost of the worst single bombing attack since the US-led invasion in 2003. Police say more than 130 people were killed and over 300 wounded on Saturday, when a suicide bomber drove a truck carrying one tonne of explosives into a market in a Shi’ite district of Baghdad. The area was crowded with shoppers rushing to buy food for the evening meal before a night-time curfew.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki blamed the attack on followers of ex-President Saddam Hussein.
Analysts believed Sunni insurgents are trying to cause as much chaos as possible before a joint Iraqi-US security operation gets underway. Maliki has vowed to clear the capital of militants who have defied attempts to take control.
US President George W. Bush has promised to send more than 20,000 extra troops to Iraq. Most will go to Baghdad.
The fear now is that Shi’ite militia will retaliate.
There was other violence around the country on Saturday, including attacks in Kirkuk and clashes in Mosul.
It underlined a recent US intelligence report saying that escalating sectarian bloodshed in Iraq met the definition of civil war.
At least five people were killed and 40 more injured in seven car bombings around the city in Kirkuk. In Mosul there were skirmishes between insurgents and police in several neighbourhoods.
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