Bombs ripped through markets killing at least 100 people in and around Baghdad on Monday as US and Iraqi forces prepared for a large-scale assault on insurgents and militias in the violent capital.
Two car bombs exploded at a busy second-hand market in the heart of Baghdad, killing 88 Iraqis, security officials said.
The bombs exploded seconds apart in the Haraj market shortly after midday (1430 GMT), sending twin columns of thick smoke billowing above the Bab al-Sharki district on the east bank of the Tigris river.
It was the deadliest attack in the capital this year and came less than a week after twin bombs killed 70 people, mostly students, outside a Baghdad university.
Hospital and security sources put the casualty toll at 88 dead and 160 wounded in Haraj market, which is usually filled with traders selling used electronic goods, watches, clothing and medicines.
"There were so many victims they were piled up on wooden market carts, the wounded on top of the dead, and hauled to ambulances and police vehicles," an AFP photographer at the site said.
"Improvised rescue workers made their way through the carnage amid the cries of those wounded."
At the nearby Al-Kindi hospital, some of the victims' relatives squatted on the ground, holding their heads in grief, while others cried before bodies lined up on the ground and covered with light blue and black plastic sheets.