43 dead in Baghdad pet market blasts

At least 43 people were killed today when bombs tore through two separate pet markets in Baghdad.

At least 43 people were killed today when bombs tore through two separate pet markets in Baghdad.

The deadliest blast occurred about 10.20am local time when a bomb hidden in a bird box exploded at the central al-Ghazl market.

Six children and many teenagers were among the victims.

About 20 minutes later, another bomb targeted a bird market in the predominantly Shiite south-eastern neighbourhood of New Baghdad.

Police said four people were killed, including a woman, and nine were wounded, including children, in that attack.

The violence, which took place shortly before the weekly Islamic call to prayer sounded across the city, was the latest in a series of attacks chipping away at recent security gains by US troops and a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq.

The al-Ghazl market has been struck several times since the war started but it recently re-emerged as a popular venue as security has improved.

A bomb hidden in a box of small birds exploded at the market in late November, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens.

The US military blamed the November attack on Iranian-backed Shiite militants, saying they had hoped al-Qaida in Iraq would be held responsible for the attack so Iraqis would turn to them for protection.

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