Baghdad blast toll rises to 68

A02976677.jpgBAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi police said on Friday 68 people were killed in coordinated bombings blamed on al Qaeda in a packed shopping area in central Baghdad on Thursday, making it the deadliest attack in the Iraqi capital for nine months.

Another 120 were wounded when two bombs exploded within minutes of each other on Thursday evening in Baghdad’s mainly Shi’ite Karrada district, police said.

The incident was the single bloodiest attack in Baghdad since last June.

The streets were packed at the time of Thursday’s blasts with vendors selling goods on sidewalks and locals shopping at the start of the Muslim weekend.

Iraqi and U.S. officials said a roadside bomb exploded first. Minutes later, as Iraqi security forces and locals gathered to tend to the casualties, there was a second, larger blast. Women and children were among the casualties.

Police and the U.S. military said they believed the second explosion was caused by a suicide bomber.

Last month, two women killed 99 people when they detonated explosives in packed pet markets, with 62 dying in the deadlier of the two bombings.

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