A car bomb ripped through a crowded market in southern Iraq today, killing at least 28 people and wounding 35, a local official said.
The death toll from the explosion in Al-Bathaa, 20 miles west of Nassariya, could rise, said Akram al-Tamimi, media manager of the Nassariya provincial council.
The sectarian bloodshed and insurgency unleashed by the 2003 US-led invasion has fallen sharply across Iraq since its peak in 2006/07, and the Shi'ite Muslim south has tended to be one of the quietest areas.
But insurgents, including Sunni Islamist al-Qa'ida, who view Shi'ites as heretics, continue to carry out devastating car and suicide bomb attacks. Analysts say violence is likely to rise ahead of parliamentary elections next January.
The withdrawal from Iraqi city centres by US combat troops at the end of the month is another potential trigger point for an increase in attacks, Iraqi officials say.
The death toll from today's car bomb attack varied enormously, depending on the source.
Police said 20 people died, and 30 were wounded. A security source in Nassariya who did not want to be identified said 30 people were killed and 70 wounded.
A hospital official said 13 bodies were taken to the local morgue and 75 wounded people were treated for wounds, but that other casualties might have been taken to another hospital.Reuse content