Car Bombs Hit Iraq Markets, Kill 31

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BAGHDAD  — Four car bombs struck two outdoor markets in predominantly Shia areas of Iraq on Friday, killing at least 31 people and wounding dozens at a time of mounting discontent among minority Sunnis.

The bombings in Baghdad and a town south of the capital were the latest attacks by insurgents trying to re-ignite sectarian violence and undermine the Shia-led government.

Friday’s bombings targeted an outdoor pet market in Baghdad’s northern holy Shia city of Kazimyah and in a vegetable market in the Shomali in Hillah province, south of the Iraqi capital.

Every Friday, Iraqis converge on markets to shop and spend family time during the Muslim weekend. Markets are a frequent target for militants who seek to inflict large numbers of casualties.

In Baghdad, the first car bomb exploded around mid-morning at the entrance to the Kazimyah market, two police officers said. When panicked shoppers tried to flee the area, a second parked car exploded a few meters (yards) away, according to the officers.

At least 17 people were killed and 45 were wounded in the two blasts, police said. All the victims were civilians.

About an hour later, two car bombs exploded simultaneously at the Shomali market, killing at least 14 people and wounding 26, two police officers said.

Health officials confirmed the casualty figures in each attack. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.

Violence has decreased since the worst sectarian fighting in 2006-2007, but insurgents carry out near-daily attacks on security forces and civilians in an attempt to undermine the Shiite-led government.

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