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24 killed in two bombings as flare-up continues in Iraq

BAGHDAD — A bomb hidden inside a pickup truck loaded with vegetables exploded in a market north of Baghdad, the deadlier of two vehicle bombings that killed 24 people in Iraq on Thursday.

The blasts in the city of Samarra and the Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib are the latest in a seemingly unrelenting wave of violence pounding Iraq a decade after the US-led invasion. They follow a spate of car bombings and other attacks a day earlier that killed at least 82.

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The truck bomb responsible for most of Thursday’s deaths tore through a market in Samarra, killing 18 and wounding 32, according to police.

Samarra is a largely Sunni Muslim city that is home to a revered Shi’ite shrine. The 2006 bombing of the gold-domed al-Askari shrine by Sunni militants unleashed widespread sectarian bloodshed.

Another car bomb went off Thursday in Abu Ghraib, killing six and wounding 15, according to police. Abu Ghraib is the site of the prison made infamous by prisoner abuse by US personnel following the 2003 invasion.

A highly coordinated jailbreak by Al Qaeda at the prison and another Baghdad-area lockup in July set free more than 500 inmates, including several militants.

Hospital officials confirmed Thursday’s casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Al Qaeda’s Iraq branch frequently detonates car bombs in areas with large numbers of civilians in the hopes of maximizing the number of casualties and undermining public confidence in the Shi’ite-led government.

More than 4,000 people have been killed in attacks in Iraq since April, when the pace of killing accelerated to levels unseen since 2008.

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