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Blasts rip through Sadr City streets

Iraq sees its worst day after occupation so far.

November 23, 2006

The hotbed of violence continues to remain so with yet another series of mortar blasts and car bombs devastating a Shia stronghold. The blasts that occurred at Sadr City in Baghdad left around 150 people dead. More than 230 were wounded. The death toll is expected to go up.

The shopping streets here were ripped off by the mortar fire and as many as six car bombs, each packed with as much as half a tonne of explosives, at around 3 pm local time. The Jamila market, al-Hay market and al-Shahidein Square in Sadr City were completely gone in a matter of seconds.

The attack is one of the deadliest since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, was quickly blamed on Sunni extremists intent on causing the maximum loss of life in the neigbourhood that is home to the Mahdi Army militia, the Shia militia loyal to Iraq's leading radical Shia cleric, Hojatoleslam Moqtada al-Sadr.

Immediately after the attack, came the retaliation. Shia militias fired 10 mortar rounds at the Abu Hanifa mosque in Azamiya killing one person and wounding seven people.

The bombings of Sadr City, a suburb housing around 3 million people, has been continuing ever since Iraq plunged into civil war. Sadr City is home to mostly Shias.

The UN had only yesterday said that more than 3,700 people were killed in Baghdad last month. The most serious bomb attacks in the capital this year followed an audacious attack by Sunni militants on the Iraqi Health Ministry, which is also controlled by Hojatoleslam al-Sadr, earlier on Thursday. Five people were wounded in a three-hour gun battle in broad daylight.

With the battle seemingly unending the US choppers had gunso swop down on them to drive the militants away.




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