At Least 125 Killed in Blast at Baghdad Market

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 4, 2007

BAGHDAD, Feb. 3 -- A suicide bomber detonated more than a ton of explosives in a market in central Baghdad late Saturday afternoon, killing at least 125 people and wounding 300 in the deadliest single bombing in the capital since the war started.

The blast at the al-Sadriya market in a predominantly Shiite Muslim area leveled at least three buildings and set fire to dozens of businesses, trapping scores of people under piles of rubble.

The explosives were hidden under produce and bags of groceries in the back of a pickup truck that the driver parked near an entrance to the market.

"It's a massacre," said Tahsin Abu Lubna, who lives near the area. "It's like a slaughterhouse. You can see blood everywhere. It's an unbelievable sight."

The attack followed a recent string of bombings targeting places where Shiites congregate in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country. Officials say Sunni insurgents are behind the violence, which comes as the Iraqi government and U.S. military are stepping up security in the capital as an intended first step to restoring order in Iraq.

Ambulances rushed to the scene after the bombing, but many of the corpses and the wounded were loaded on the back of pickup trucks.

"They were carrying the bodies like sheep," Abu Lubna said in a phone interview as he watched emergency vehicles stream out of the devastated area outside his window.

A 29-year-old mechanic who works nearby said he rushed to the scene to help.

"This is a real disaster," said the mechanic, who gave only his first name, Amjad. "I carried four bodies," he added, including two he recognized: a yogurt vendor and a man who sold tea.

Iraqi officials said that determining the exact death toll would take at least a day.

"The bodies are still under the destroyed buildings, so this is why it is hard to have a final number now," Maj. Gen. Jihad al-Jabiri, an explosives expert at the Interior Ministry, said on state-run al-Iraqiya television.

Iraqi news stations showed piles of bloody bodies lying in the street outside a hospital.

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