At least 78 people were killed and more than 150 wounded Monday after two nearly simultaneous bombs struck a predominantly Shiite commercial area in central Baghdad in the deadliest attack in two months, officials said.
The U.S. military reported the deaths of two Marines, raising the in a particularly bloody weekend for American forces in Iraq.
Monday's first blast, a parked car bomb, tore through stalls of vendors peddling DVDs and secondhand clothes shortly after noon in the Bab al-Sharqi market between Tayaran and Tahrir squares one of the busiest parts of Baghdad. Seconds later, a suicide car bomber drove into the crowd.
Police estimated that each car was loaded with nearly 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of explosives.
Deputy Health Minister Hakim al-Zamili said at least 78 people were killed and 156 were wounded.
The explosions left body parts strewn on the bloodstained pavement as black smoke rose into the sky. Police sealed off the area as ambulances rushed to the scene.
Survivors were taken to nearby al-Kindi Hospital where emergency personnel worked feverishly over the bloodied and badly wounded.
Bodies covered in blue and white cloth littered the outdoor courtyard at the hospital. Family members and friends were at the side of the dead, screaming in grief and crying out oaths, reports AP.
A suicide bomber killed at least 63 people in the same area last month.
The latest bombings were a further sign of what appeared to be a renewed campaign of Sunni insurgent violence against Shiite targets. Last week, 142 Iraqis were killed or found dead on Tuesday alone, including 65 students at a leading Baghdad university who died in twin car bombings.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, denounced the attack.
"We condemn this crime and we promise that the security forces will pursue all those involved in this crime and bring them to justice," he said in a statement.
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