BAGHDAD, Iraq - A triple car bombing struck a food market in a predominantly Shiite area in central Baghdad today, killing at least 51 people a day after a U.S.-Iraqi raid against Sunni insurgents in a nearby neighborhood.
Three parked cars blew up nearly simultaneously as shoppers were buying fruit, vegetables, meat and other items for dinner in the busy al-Sadriyah district.
The blast sent clouds of black smoke over concrete high-rises in the area, which has narrow alleys that made it difficult for ambulances and fire trucks to navigate. At least 51 people were killed and 90 wounded, according to police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun and hospital officials.
Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack, but it followed a raid on Friday by Iraqi forces backed by U.S. helicopters targeting Sunni insurgents in al-Fadhil, less than half a mile away.
A bombing and mortar attack also killed 215 people and wounded more than 200 in the Shiite district of Sadr City in Baghdad on Nov. 23 as sectarian tensions increase.
The Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq condemned the al-Fadhil raid in a statement today, alleging that six people were killed and 13 detained.
Iraqi police said Friday that one Iraqi soldier and two civilians were killed in the fighting, and the U.S. military said 28 people were detained.
Separately, U.S. and Iraqi forces began an offensive operation in Baqouba, the capital of Diyala province about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, where fighting has raged for a week between Sunni insurgents and police, the U.S. command said.
At least 36 suspected militants were detained during one pre-dawn raid in Baqouba, police said. Later in the day, state-run Iraqiya television said one al-Qaida in Iraq insurgent was killed and 43 detained, including two foreigners.
Saturday's operation was launched two days after the U.S. military said Baqouba was fully operational, despite media reports that fighting had cleared its streets of cars and pedestrians.
Clashes also broke out Saturday between insurgents and U.S troops in the predominantly Sunni city of Duluiyah 45 miles north of Baghdad, police Capt. Qassim Mohammed said.
Elsewhere, a truck driving at high speed slammed into a bus stop in al-Wahada, 22 miles south of Baghdad, killing about 20 people, wounding 15 and crushing several cars, police said.
Police Lt. Muhammed Al-Shemari said the crash did not appear to be accidental because the truck, an empty fuel tanker, had no obvious mechanical problems.
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