Iraqi soldier at scene of bomb blast
Bombs killed at least 44 people at markets in Iraq on Tuesday, and authorities said they bore the hallmarks of sectarian attacks on Shi'ite Muslims by al Qaeda Sunni militants, reports Reuters.
A bomb in a small truck exploded in a market in the city of Diwaniya, killing 40 people, and other blasts killed four more near the city of Kerbala, police and officials said.
The Diwaniya bombing was near a Shi'ite mosque where pilgrims gather on their way to Kerbala to celebrate the birthday of one of their most important imams, al-Mahdi, this week.
Police announced a partial curfew and blocked all entrances to Diwaniya, 150 km (90 miles) south of Baghdad and 130 km southeast of Kerbala. Police sources said 75 people had been wounded.
"All of a sudden the explosion happened, I felt the power of the blast, it was so strong, it broke all the glass in my windows," butcher Ahmed Hassan, 23, said in his shop.
"I smelled blood and gunpowder."
He said a fellow shopkeeper had been taking dead bodies to the hospital morgue.
"We even saw body parts on the top of building, we took them down," said Hassan, looking pale and confused as he swept glass from his shop floor.
Shoes, toys and vegetables were scattered across the ground and at least 15 shops were destroyed. Two burnt-out vehicles stood near the site of the explosion. Witnesses said the bomb appeared to have been planted in a delivery truck.
Earlier in the day, two bombs in a vegetable wholesale market killed four people and wounded 29 near the central Iraqi city of Kerbala, hospital and police sources said.