Two bombs kill 53 and injure 130 in Baghdad

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Two bombs went off within minutes of each other in a crowded shopping district in Baghdad yesterday, killing at least 53 people and wounding 130.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility. But back-to-back bombings – designed to maximise the carnage – became the hallmark of attacks on civilians by al-Qa'ida in Iraq during the worst of the violence in the Iraqi capital in 2006. The tactic seeks to draw in people with the first blast, especially security and medical workers, before a second bomb detonates.

Iraqis were enjoying a pleasant spring evening when a roadside bomb hidden under a vendor stall detonated in the primarily Shia, middle-class neighbourhood of Karradah. Five minutes later, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives belt. Many of the victims were teenagers or young adults, and four were women, officials said.

Hassan Abdullah, who owns a clothing shop in the area, said he was walking to the site of the first blast to see what happened when the second bomb went off.

"I saw a leg and a hand falling near me as I was walking. The whole place was a mess. Wounded people were crying for help, and people started to run away," said Mr Abdullah, 25. "The aim of such attacks is the random killing of as many people as possible in order to terrorise Iraqi people."

Violence has dropped substantially in Baghdad over the past six months with the boost in US troops, a cease-fire by a powerful Shia militia, and many Sunni fighters turning against al-Qa'ida in Iraq. But multiple killings are still a daily occurrence.

South-east of Baghdad, the US military said it discovered a home in a farming area that served as an al-Qa'ida in Iraq training facility and prison.

The brick house was in a remote area of Zambraniyah, about 20 miles from Baghdad. Inside the house, troops found handcuffs attached to the floor and another pair connected to a barred window, hooks used to hang people attached to a wall and interrogation books written in Arabic.

"It looked like there were remnants where people suffered," said Spc Daniel Murray, of the 3rd Infantry Division. Troops also found a treadmill and stair-climbing machine in another room, he added.

Squadron commander Lt Col Mark Solomon said it appeared that the home was used as a base but it was hard to tell when it was last occupied.