BAGHDAD – On Wednesday evening, explosives reported to be in a small trailer towed by a motorcycle tore apart stalls in Sadr City’s al-Maridi Market. Not long afterward, a local government official told Iraqslogger that he counted 66 civilians killed, and 132 injured. He added that those coordinating rescue efforts said that several of those wounded were "dying". Later in the evening, the number of dead was approaching 80, though police sources put the number lower, as is often the case. Victims quickly filled the nearby Imam Ali Hospital, and were taken as well to the other major neighborhood hospital, known as "Sadr Hospital".
The government official described a gruesome scene of burnt bodies, with many missing arms, legs, and feet.
Al-Maridi Market was the location of a car bombing on April 29, which killed over 40 people and resulted in spontaneous demonstrations by locals, denouncing Iraqi Army forces for allowing the breach of security. The market is known for selling, among many normal items, birds, fake identification, and other forged documents.
Wednesday was the one-year anniversary of an explosion at a Sadr City council meeting on June 24, 2008, which caused several deaths. Among them were four Americans, remembered in a small ceremony held at Sadr City’s weekly council meeting on Tuesday by an American delegation.
On Saturday, the US military “handed over the file” of Sadr City to Iraqi security forces. This was in advance of the approaching June 30 deadline for most US forces to withdraw from most cities, as well as “all villages and localities,” as described on Wednesday afternoon to members of the media by MNF-I spokesman, Brig. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza. In the media briefing, Lanza, also the US military’s Director for Strategic Effects in Baghdad, spoke of the upcoming change in the nature of US operations to occur, but declined to give specific numbers or areas of remaining soldiers and bases after July 1. Discussions between Iraqi and American officials were said to be ongoing.