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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 21:02 GMT 22:02 UK
Dozens killed in new Iraq attacks
Some two dozen people were killed in the market blast

At least 50 people have died in a wave of attacks in Iraq, including a blast at a busy Baghdad market and another at an army and police recruitment centre.

The bombing at the Shurja market killed 24 people and injured 35, police said.

Other blasts and shootings left at least 14 dead in the Iraqi capital, while in Hilla, a bomb killed 12 men queuing to join the police.

The Baghdad blasts come amid a joint US-Iraqi security clampdown that officials insist is working.

The top US general in Iraq, George Casey, said on Wednesday he could see Iraqi forces taking on responsibility for the country's security within 12 to 18 months, with "very little" coalition support.

But Baghdad's citizens probably do not feel the security clampdown is working, says the BBC's world affairs correspondent Nick Childs.

Map showing locations of Baghdad and Hilla

The latest bombings, particularly in the capital, he says, look like further attempts by insurgents in a political war of nerves to disprove US and Iraqi assertions.

A roadside bomb went off at the Shurja market, a teeming maze of shops and stalls, at about 1000 local time (0600 GMT), when it was full of shoppers and traders, police said.

"There are patches of blood everywhere in the area and firefighters are fighting to quell the fire, as many shops are burning," a police officer told the French news agency AFP shortly after the explosion.

Shurja is one of the country's best-known markets and attracts buyers and sellers from all over Iraq.

It has been attacked before. A blast there three weeks ago left 10 people dead.

In other violence:

  • A car bomb exploded as police responded to a smaller blast near a petrol station in Baghdad, killing three people and injuring 21

  • A bomb on a minibus killed three people and injured another 11 in the northern city of Kirkuk

  • A senior justice ministry official, Nadia Mohammed, was shot dead along with her bodyguard and driver in the west of the capital

  • Gunmen shot dead three textile workers travelling to work in a taxi in west Baghdad, according to police

  • A roadside bomb struck a car carrying a family of five in Buhriz, 60km (36 miles) north-east of Baghdad, killing everyone inside, police said

At about 0800 (0400 GMT) on Wednesday, men were queuing at the recruitment centre in Hilla, 120km (75 miles) south of Baghdad, to apply for police jobs when a bomb exploded.

A woman cries after identifying her son as one of those killed in the Hilla bombing
The town of Hilla has seen much bloodshed and loss
The device had been left in a parked bicycle, a police spokesman said.

Recruitment centres for the Iraqi army and police have been frequent targets for insurgents.

Hilla, the capital of the mixed Sunni and Shia province of Babel, has been frequently targeted by insurgents.

It was the scene of the bloodiest single attack in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003, when about 125 people were killed by a suicide bomber in February 2005.

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