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Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 11:31 GMT
Death toll rises in Baghdad bombs
People cleaning streets after Karada bomb 7/3/08
The morning after the attack the streets were still awash with blood
Sixty-eight people were killed in twin bomb attacks on a shopping area in central Baghdad, Iraq's interior ministry has said.

The Thursday blasts left another 130 people injured, officials said.

Funerals are taking place in the mainly-Shia district of Karada - the scene of the bombings.

The second bomb hit a crowd of people, including emergency workers, who had gathered to help after the first blast, causing the high death toll.

No-one has claimed to have carried out the attack, but Iraqi and US security officials are blaming al-Qaeda in Iraq.

'Crying for help'

A roadside bomb exploded first in the market area as shoppers were out in numbers on a pleasant spring evening. One report said the bomb was hidden under a vendor's cart.

A few minutes later, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives vest in the middle of the crowd that had gathered, Iraqi officials said.

Baghdad map
A local merchant said he was walking towards the scene of the first bomb when the second one exploded.

"I saw a leg and a hand falling near me as I was walking," Hassan Abdullah told Associated Press news agency.

"The whole place was a mess. Wounded people were crying for help, and people started to run away."

The BBC's Hugh Sykes in Baghdad says there are no obvious military targets in the area.

Attacks like this used to occur almost daily but have become much less common in recent months, says our correspondent.

However, Iraqi government figures this week showed that the number of Iraqi civilians killed in February was a third higher than in January.

Last month, two women bombers killed 99 people at crowded pet markets in Baghdad.

The figures reversed the six-month-long trend of falling death tolls attributed to a surge in US troop numbers, the formation of anti-al-Qaeda militias by Sunni Arab tribes and a freeze in activities of the Mehdi Army militia loyal to radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.



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