NASIRIYAH, Iraq (AFP) — A car bomb exploded in a market in a southern Iraqi town on Wednesday, killing 19 people including women and children in the bloodiest attack to hit the country in weeks.
Fifty-six people were also wounded in the bombing in the town of Batha in the predominantly Shiite province of Dhiqar, according to the main hospital in the provincial capital Nasiriyah.
"The final toll is 19 dead and 56 injured," said Mohaned Abdul Redha, the hospital's chief of emergency services.
Although bombings remain common in the capital Baghdad and the restive northern city of Mosul, attacks in Dhiqar and its capital Nasiriyah are rare.
The blast in Batha, which lies 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Nasiriyah, came three weeks ahead of the planned June 30 withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities and major towns.