Bombing Targets Shiite Sector of Baghdad

A car bombing in Baghdad has killed more than 50 people and left dozens wounded. The explosion took place at an outdoor market in a Shiite district of the Iraqi capital.

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In Iraq today, a car bomb attack killed at least 51 people and wounded more than 75 in a neighborhood of northwest Baghdad. The bombing hit shoppers at a market during the evening rush hour.

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from the Iraqi capital.

COREY FLINTOFF: Police say the bomb was apparently planted in a parked car near the market. It blew up just before 6 p.m. as people shopped for their evening meal. The bombing was the most lethal Baghdad has seen in more than three months. Judging by the length of time it took for police and rescue teams to sort through the human remains and arrive at a casualty count, it was also extraordinarily destructive.

Eyewitness accounts say that several buildings were heavily damaged and that some of the dead and injured were trapped inside. U.S. military officials say no American forces were present at the time of the attack. The bombing came on the same day that Iraq's parliament announced plans to move outside the heavily fortified Green Zone and back into the old Iraqi parliament building, which is near the center of the city.

The announcement was seen as an expression of confidence in Baghdad's improved security. Huriya, where the attack took place, was a mixed Sunni and Shiite neighborhood but had seen a lot of secular violence over the past two years, and many Sunni families have been driven out. Even though Baghdad is in the midst of a fairly severe dust storm, there have been a lot of people on the streets. Markets have been particularly crowded, in part because improved security has made shoppers more confident.

People also have to shop frequently because it's impossible to keep food fresh in the hot weather without electricity for refrigeration. Better security has led to a big increase in the number of cars on the street, to the extent the traffic jams have once again become common in downtown Baghdad. Even though Iraqi soldiers and police and American patrols have been out in force, it's still difficult to examine every car or truck, and that provides opportunities for attacks such as this one.

Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Baghdad.

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