40 killed as four bombs explode in Baghdad

Four bombs ripped through Shiite neighbourhoods in Baghdad yesterday evening, killing at least 40 people in the worst violence the capital has seen in months.

The first three bombs went off in quick succession in a south-western Baghdad district shortly after 7pm local time. One targeted a Shiite mosque, another exploded just outside a popular market, while the third went off inside the market where people were doing their evening shopping, police said.

A Baghdad resident, Jabir Ali, said he was about 200 yards away when one of the bombs went off near a barber's shop where his cousin works.

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"I saw many people killed and injured. I went to see my cousin. The glass at his shop was broken and he was injured in his head, chest and hand by the glass," said Mr Ali, who drove his cousin to the hospital.

About an hour later, a parked car bomb targeting a police patrol killed six people, including one policeman and five bystanders in a different district in south-western Baghdad.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Sunni extremists such as al-Qaeda in Iraq generally tend to target Shiite mosques and neighbourhoods and Iraqi security forces.

The violence underscores the fragile nature of the security gains in Iraq at a time US forces are preparing to withdraw by the end of this year.