At least 20 people were killed when a car bomb exploded in the southern Iraqi port city of Basra late on Monday, an interior ministry source said.
”Twenty people, mostly civilians, were killed and 45 wounded in the car-bomb attack in a crowded market in Basra,” the source said in Baghdad, citing police reports from Basra.
He added that the toll would probably climb higher.
The bomb exploded as a police patrol passed, tearing into a crowded market as people shopped for the Aid al-Fitr holiday that follows the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and is due to begin in a few days.
At least four cars were totally destroyed by the blast, and rescue workers had to make their way through the debris to treat the wounded, a photographer for news agency AFP said.
On September 13, four Iraqi private security guards were killed and two wounded in a roadside bombing outside Basra, the biggest city in southern Iraq, in the last attack to hit the relatively quiet region.
There had been an upsurge in attacks prior to that in the south, whose Shi’ite population has generally accepted the United States-led invasion unlike the ousted Sunni elite in north-central Iraq.
On September 7, four American guards escorting a US diplomatic convoy were killed in a bombing, while three British soldiers also died in two separate blasts that week. — Sapa-AFP