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Blast in Baghdad marketplace kills 72, injures over 100


MOSCOW, June 25 (RIA Novosti) - Police have confirmed at least 72 people have died and more than 100 injured in a blast in a Baghdad marketplace, al Jazeera reported on Thursday.

The bomb was hidden in a motorcycle rickshaw loaded with fruit and vegetables which detonated on Wednesday evening at the Mraidi outdoor market in north Baghdad's Sadr City. The bomber abandoned his vehicle and ran off prior to the detonation.

Many women and children are among the victims.

"I heard a boom and saw a ball of fire," Najim Ali, a 30-year-old local, who was shopping in the market, told al Jazeera. "I saw cars flying in the air because of the force of the explosion."

This latest attack comes as U.S. troops prepare to hand over control of several Iraqi cities to local authorities by June 30.

The number of explosions has dropped in recent months in Iraq with May having one of the lowest casualty figures since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the country. However recent violence, including a blast in Kirkuk on Saturday which killed 73, has pushed the death toll this month to over 150.

Earlier on Wednesday, a U.S. military spokesman said only a small number of U.S. troops would remain in Iraqi cities after the June 30 deadline, but that the exact number was still being worked on.

Some U.S. soldiers will stay behind in urban centers at so-called Joint Security Stations to train and advise local security forces.

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