A police source said witnesses believed Friday's bomb had been planted in a cardboard box that the bomber had punched with air holes to pass it off as containing birds. Parrots, canaries and more exotic pets are prime attractions at the market.
 
In the northern city of Mosul, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shia mosque on the outskirts of the city, killing seven people and wounding 17 more after prayers on Friday.
 
A police source said the attack happened in Guba, on the outskirts of Mosul, 390 km north of Baghdad.
 

Security crackdown

 

After a surge in bombings over the past few days, security forces are on high alert as Shias prepare to mark the climax of the 10-day mourning rite of Ashura on Monday.

 

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Many hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected to converge on the city of Karbala, south of Baghdad, for ceremonies banned during Saddam Hussein's rule and now an annual high point for Shias in Iraq.

 

Al-Maliki told parliament on Thursday: "There will be no safe haven - no school, no home, no mosque ... They will all be raided if they are turned into a launch pad for terrorism, even the headquarters of political parties."

 

Since al-Maliki announced his plan earlier this month there has been a series of bombings and dozens of bodies are still found dumped in the city every day, apparent victims of unchecked violence. Forty bodies were found on Thursday alone.

 

On Friday morning, police said they found seven more.