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

 

An 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," a 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 its 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.

 

Bombings continue

 

In seperate incidents around Iraq on Monday, at least 13 people were killed in bomb explosions and shootings and over 100 detained as the US security crackdown in Iraq continues.

 

A roadside bomb blew up near pilgrims heading to the holy city of Kerbala, killing at least two people and wounding 10 others in central Baghdad, police said.

   

Iraqi security forces killed 10 gunmen and arrested 68 more, including five of Arab nationality, over the past 24 hours in and around the capital as part of Operation Imposing Law, the Joint Operation Centre for the plan said.

 

Gunmen killed a former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath party in Diwaniya on Monday, the police said.

 

The US military said its forces detained 36 suspects in raids near the Syrian border, Tikrit, Falluja and Baghdad targeting foreign fighter and al-Qaeda networks.