With one week remaining until US troops “withdraw” from cities and move back into 340 military premises around the country, the violence in Iraq is continuing to escalate.   Has anyone noticed that the militants keep targeting fruit and vegetable markets?  That most ordinary activity — a woman going to buy ingredients to cook meals for her family — has become a dangerous, frightening activity.

At least 72 people were killed today, and 127 injured,  in a bombing in the Shia heartland of Sadr City, in Baghdad. One bomb was believed to have been hidden under a pile of vegetables on the back of a  rickshaw in a popular marketplace. The blast happened at sunset in a crowded slum neighbourhood of Sadr City, which like many Shia, or mixed areas of the country, has been increasingly targeted in the lead-up to the American withdrawal.

Iraqi security officials had foreshadowed a spike in violence as the American pull-out draws near. However, the daily death tolls have already come close to the worst case scenarios spelled out by some commanders.

In the past seven days, at least 242 Iraqis have been killed, nearly all by bombings. June is on track to be the deadliest month for civilians in close to one year.  Read more:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/24/baghdad-sadr-city-bomb-iraq

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