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Explosion Rocks Central Baghdad --> 14 September 2004 -- Iraq's Health Ministry says a car bomb blast that tore through a crowded marketplace in central Baghdad killed at least 47 people and wounded over 100 others.

U.S. military and Iraqi Interior Ministry officials say the blast was caused by a car bomb. The explosion went off close to a police station on a main thoroughfare where there has been intense fighting between U.S. soldiers and insurgents.

Iraqi Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib toured the scene of the attack and blamed the bombing on "Arab groups."

"This act targets the Iraqi people and aims to destroy Iraq. These brutal forces, which have links with Iraq's enemies, are trying to hinder Iraq's reconstruction and the rebuilding of its forces. But, God willing, with the determination of the Iraqi people, we will rebuild our forces and eliminate all the terrorists," al-Naqib said.

Guerrillas mounted multiple car bomb and mortar attacks in the same Haifa Street area on 12 September, when some 20 people were killed.

In other developments, the U.S. military says today that two of its soldiers were killed and three wounded in a roadside attack in Baghdad yesterday.

And Australia says it is investigating a claim by militants in Iraq that they had taken hostage two Australian security workers.


For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".