Iraqi and US forces are in the third week of a major security crackdown in Baghdad aimed at stemming sectarian violence.

 

A big increase in the number of troops on the streets and checkpoints appears to have reduced death squad killings but US commanders say car bombs remain a problem.   

The market before and
after the blast [AFP]

The police source said a second bomb exploded in Bab al Muadham Street, very close to Mutanabi street, around the same time.

 

It was not immediately clear how many casualties there were from that explosion.

   

"I'm up on the roof now, there's black smoke everywhere," the witness on Mutanabi Street told Reuters by telephone, adding that ambulance sirens were sounding and the street below was in chaos, with pools of blood on the street.

   

"There was so much smoke that I was vomiting," the witness said, who was in a book shop on the street when the windows were blown out by the blast.

   

Monday's blast was the most deadly in the capital since February 25 when a female suicide bomber killed 40 people, mainly students, at a Baghdad college.