Baghdad market bomb kills 31

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A bomb targeting Iraqi Shia labourers lining up for day jobs in Baghdad today killed at least 31 people and injured more than 50 others.

The bomb tore through a collection of food stalls and kiosks in Sadr City at about 6.15am (0315 GMT), cutting down men who gather there daily hoping to be hired as construction workers. Police Maj. Hashim al-Yasiri put the casualty figure at 31 killed and 51 injured.

There were conflicting reports as to whether the blast was caused by a suicide bomber or a device concealed amid debris by the roadside. The overwhelmingly Shia area is a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia blamed for much of the sectarian violence rocking the city.

Sadr City, a sprawling neighborhood of 2.5 million people, has been the scene of repeated bomb attacks by suspected al-Qa'ida fighters who have sought to incite Shia revenge attacks and drag the country into full-blown civil war.

The US and Iraqi military have kept a tight cordon around Sadr City since a raid there last week in search of an alleged Shia death squad leader, who was not found.

The last major bombing in Sadr City occurred on 23 September when a bomb blew up a kerosene tanker and killed at least 35 people in a Shia slum in Baghdad. The bomb was hidden in a barrel near the tanker as scores of people were waiting to buy fuel. The area was more crowded than usual because families were stocking up on fuel in advance of Ramadan.