|Army and police deployed in force and cordoned the market where two of the bombs exploded [AFP]|
At least 19 people have been killed and 65 others injured after three bombs exploded in Iraq’s southern port city of Basra, security and medical officials say.
A roadside bomb and a motorcycle bomb exploded simultaneously at about 6:40pm local time (15:40 GMT) on Thursday in a market in central Basra, an interior ministry official said.
Following a common pattern in Iraq, a third roadside bomb went off as people gathered at the scene, according to the official.
Army and police deployed in force following the blasts, cordoning off the market, an AFP news agency correspondent said.
“The death toll is 19 killed and 65 wounded,” Riyadh Abdul-Amir, director-general of the Basra health department, said.
The latest attack was the deadliest day in Iraq since October 27, when two roadside bombs in Baghdad’s Urr neighbourhood killed at least 32 people and wounded 71 others.
On November 2, three motorbike bombings in Basra killed at least nine people and wounded at least 37.
Most of the victims of Thursday’s bombings were police and soldiers, including several senior leaders, Ali al-Maliki, head of the Basra provincial council security committee, said.
“The fingerprints of Baathists and al Qaeda are clear in these explosions,” he said.
Iraqi government officials frequently accuse former members of Saddam Hussein’s banned Baath Party of trying to destabilise Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s fragile coalition government.
The government recently rounded up more than 600 former military leaders and Baathists, accusing them of plotting to seize power when US troops leave.
Violence has declined nationwide since its peak in 2006 and 2007, but attacks remain common.
A total of 258 people were killed in October, according to official figures.