Truck bomb loaded with vegetables kills 11 in Baghdad

McClatchy NewspapersMay 6, 2009 

Iraqis survey the damage after an explosion that killed at least 11 people at a popular vegetable market in south Baghdad.

SAHAR ISSA / MCT

BAGHDAD — A bomb in a parked car exploded Wednesday at a popular south Baghdad produce market, killing at least 11 people and wounding dozens more, police said.

It was the latest in a string of deadly bombings that have many Iraqis worried about a return of widespread violence.

Large-scale attacks have been on the rise since March, and by several measures April was the bloodiest month Iraq has seen since last year.

Wednesday's explosion took place at about 6 a.m. at the Rasheed open-air vegetable market. Authorities said the death toll probably would have been far higher if not for the early time.

A second car bomb was discovered at the scene shortly after the attack and detonated under control by police, officials said. No one was hurt in that explosion.

Witnesses said the attacker drove up to the market in a truck packed with cauliflower. He parked the truck, asked nearby workers to unload it and then walked away. A few minutes later, the truck exploded.

"It is always the simple people who are the victims," cried Haithem Turki Abdullah, a 26-year-old farmer, whose father was seriously injured in the blast. "All I ask is why this is happening? Why must innocent people lose their family members?"

Abdullah said about 50 people were taken to hospital after the attack. The blast also destroyed several cars.

Other witnesses said a large truck parked next to the one that exploded helped shield many bystanders.

"I was thrown against the wall by the explosion," said Ali Abu Hassen, a 34-year-old merchant with a shop near the site of the attack. "And who came to the rescue? No one. No one came. The policemen would not enter. They were afraid."

Despite the increase in attacks, the Iraqi government has said it wants U.S. combat troops to leave Iraqi cities by the end of June. An agreement signed last year between Washington and Baghdad mandates that U.S. forces must pull out of cities by then unless Iraq asks them to stay.

President Barack Obama has promised to withdraw most Americans from the country altogether by the end of next summer.

(Issa is a McClatchy special correspondent.)

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