Four large bombs exploded in mostly Shiite areas across Baghdad yesterday, killing at least 157 people and wounding scores as violence climbed toward levels seen before the US-Iraqi campaign to pacify the capital began two months ago.
In the deadliest of the attacks, a parked car bomb detonated in a crowd of workers at the Sadriyah market in central Baghdad, killing at least 112 people and wounding 115, said Raad Muhsin, an official at al-Kindi Hospital where the victims were taken.
A police official confirmed the toll, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
Among the dead were several construction workers who had been rebuilding the mostly Shiite marketplace after a bombing destroyed many shops and killed 137 people there in February, the police official said.
The market is situated on a side street lined with shops and vendors selling produce, meat and other staples. It is also about 500m from a Sunni shrine.
About an hour earlier, a suicide car bomber crashed into an Iraqi police checkpoint at an entrance to Sadr City, the capital's biggest Shiite Muslim neighborhood and a stronghold for the militia led by radical anti-US cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
The explosion killed at least 30 people, including five security officers, and wounded 45, police said.
Black smoke billowed from a jumble of at least eight incinerated vehicles that were in a jam of cars stopped at the checkpoint. Bystanders scrambled over twisted metal to drag victims from the smoldering wreckage as Iraqi guards staggered around stunned.
Earlier, a parked car exploded near a private hospital in the central neighborhood of Karradah, killing 11 people and wounding 13, police said. The blast damaged the Abdul-Majid hospital and other nearby buildings.
The fourth explosion was from a bomb left on a minibus in the central Rusafi area, killing four and wounding six others, police said.
Also in Baghdad, four policemen were killed yesterday afternoon when gunmen ambushed their patrol south of the city center, police said. Six pedestrians were wounded in the gunfire.