Page last updated at 22:31 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 23:31 UK

Triple car bomb strikes Baghdad

Aftermath of the car bombings

Three car bombs have exploded in quick succession in the Shia district of Sadr City in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killing at least 41 people, police say.

Local hospitals said more than 70 people were wounded in the blasts, which occurred in busy markets in the impoverished area.

Suicide bombings last week killed at least 150 people in just two days.

Correspondents say the violence has raised concerns that Iraq could slide back into sectarian conflict.

However, senior Iraqi leaders have played down the recent spate of attacks.

They say they violence will not affect plans for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities by the end of June, and from the rest of the country by 2011.

Angry residents

The Iraqi police said that the bombs went off in three adjacent markets in Sadr City at about 1630 local time (1330 GMT).

Iraqi security forces cordoned off the area, which has long been a stronghold of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Iraq map

The bombings are the latest in a recent upsurge of attacks, all directed against busy Shia areas or holy places.

Last Thursday and Friday, four suicide bombings killed around 150 people, including at least 60 at Baghdad's main Shia shrine.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says the attacks are the kind of provocation, blamed on militant Sunni Islamists, which triggered and fuelled a deadly spiral of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007.

Eyewitnesses in the area hit by Wednesday's attacks said that angry residents threw stones at the Iraqi army units stationed in the area, accusing them of doing nothing to stop the bombings.

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