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Baghdad market blast kills 5


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Mehdi Army supporters in Najaf carry the coffin of one of their members killed in fighting.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least five people died Sunday in an explosion at a crowded market in Baghdad.

The bombing came as coalition forces stepped up operations against radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his banned Mehdi Army militia in Najaf.

Police said a child was among those killed by the Baghdad blast, and 13 people, including six police officers, were wounded.

Police said the blast in western Baghdad was caused by an improvised explosive device, and that one of the policeman who was wounded was in critical condition.

In the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City Saturday night, coalition forces arrested two high-ranking deputies of al-Sadr in a raid outside al-Sadr's headquarters, U.S. military sources said.

Meanwhile, in Najaf, the U.S. military began a major offensive Sunday to take control of parts of Najaf, a stronghold of al-Sadr and his Mehdi militia.

U.S. tanks and armored personnel carriers were trying to control more territory by traveling about a mile south of the city, according to CNN's Jane Arraf, traveling with the convoy.

In the city, they were still avoiding religious sites.

The convoy was being attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire, she said.

In Basra, British military spokesman Capt. Hisham Halawi said a grenade or homemade explosive was thrown at a coalition vehicle in central Basra, wounding three soldiers.

Baghdad Bureau Chief Jane Arraf contributed to this report


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