People on fire

 

A column of smoke hundreds of feet wide billowed into the air above the market near the east bank of the Tigris river and near the central bank building.

 

The two car bombs, which occurred within 100m of each other, made a building collapse and set shops and market stalls on fire.

 

Blasts appeared timed to mark the end of a
national 'pause for reflection' [Reuters]
Ambulances and trucks took the wounded to nearby al-Kindi hospital in the largely Shia area that has been hit by a series of deadly bombings since the beginning of the year.

 

A cameraman at the scene saw people on fire and more than 30 ambulances arriving.

 

Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Iraq, said that 120 people have reportedly died, with the death toll likely to rise.

 

Anniversary attack

 

The Samarra attack by al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2006 sparked sectarian bloodletting that has turned Baghdad and much of central Iraq into a battleground.

 

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The blasts appeared to be timed to mark the end of a national 15-minute pause for reflection called by Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, on the first anniversary of the Samarra shrine attack.

 

One resident said: "My store was completely burned. I lost 100,000 dollars."

 

"The government officials sit calmly in their offices, stuck on their chairs," he said, reflecting a widespread perception that al-Maliki's unity government has failed to bring any order to Baghdad.

 

Al-Maliki had ordered thousands of police and troops onto the street as part of a joint Iraqi and US security plan.