Sixty people were killed or wounded by car bombs in the capital of mainly Shi’ite Maysan province in southern Iraq on Wednesday, hospital sources said.
The bombs exploded in a car park and a market place in the city of Amara, the sources said. Iraq’s Furat television said three bombs had exploded.
The British military, which turned responsibility for security in Maysan over to Iraqi authorities in April, confirmed a bomb had exploded at a market but had no further details.
Southern Iraq has largely escaped much of the sectarian violence that has plagued Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, but tensions have still been high across the oil-rich region as rival factions battle for influence as British forces draw down.
One witness in Amara said the bomb in the parking lot exploded first, followed soon after by the one at the market.
Police could not immediately be reached for comment.
Furat Television said two men suspected of involvement in the blasts had been detained.
Adding to the tensions in southern Iraq in recent months has been the assassination of two provincial governors. Senior police officials have also been killed.
Britain is expected to hand over control of security next week in neighbouring Basra province to Iraqi forces. That will end Britain’s security control of four southern provinces it once had responsibility for. – Reuters