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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 July 2006, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Several die in Iraq market blast
A bomb has exploded in a market south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killing at least three people, reports say.

Police said an explosion hit the market in Mahmudiya as it was packed with shoppers in the early evening.

At least 17 people were hurt in the blast, which came a day after a huge car bomb killed more than 60 people at a market in a Shia area of Baghdad.

Also on Sunday, witnesses reported gun and rocket fire on the streets of a Baghdad district.

A security official told AFP news agency the explosion in Mahmudiya was caused by a car bomb and accompanied by mortar fire.

The town is one of several to the south of the Iraqi capital that have seen regular and deadly insurgent attacks over more than three years since the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Tensions

Earlier, witnesses spoke of clashes in Adhamiya, a Sunni district of Baghdad.

About 10 mortar rounds were fired in the area, police said, prompting exchanges of gunfire.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the violence.

The Adhamiya district is home to an important Sunni shrine and is located close to Baghdad's Sadr City, where Saturday's lethal market bomb exploded.

Sectarian tensions remain high in the capital, despite efforts by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to win backing for a national reconciliation plan designed to dampen inter-communal violence.

However, the country's main Sunni political faction has said it will boycott parliament until the release of a female Sunni MP who was kidnapped on Saturday alongside seven of her bodyguards.

Tayseer al-Mashhadani was kidnapped in a Shia area of Baghdad by gunmen who blocked off a road. A second woman MP, a Shia, escaped an attempted abduction on Sunday.

Members of the Iraqi Accordance Front walked out of Sunday's parliamentary session and called for other political factions to follow suit.




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