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Iraq Transition

Market bombs kill 119 across Iraq

Story Highlights

NEW: Suicide bombers kill 76, wound scores in Baghdad market
NEW: Three car bombs kill 43, wound 86 north of Baghdad in Diyala province
• Iraqi police find 25 bullet-riddled bodies across the capital
• New U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, is sworn in
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Bombers launched two deadly strikes Thursday in crowded Shiite marketplaces in Baghdad and a town north of Iraq's capital, killing 119 people and wounding 171. At least 17 others died in other bombings and gunfire around the country.

The attacks erupted as Iraqi shoppers filled marketplaces Thursday to buy goods at the start of the weekend and the eve of the Muslim holy day of Friday.

In the deadliest attack, at least one suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest detonated in a crowded open-air marketplace in Baghdad's Shiite district of Shaab. At least 76 people were killed and 85 were wounded.

"It was a very, very crowded market. All those killed are innocent," a man who was wounded in the explosion told Reuters news agency.

"I saw heads separated from the bodies and legs blown off," Wissam Hashim Ali, 27, told Reuters from the hospital.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said one suicide bomber carried out the attack. An Iraqi army official said there were two suicide bombers wearing explosive vests.

Earlier, in the Diyala province town of Khalis, north of Baghdad, three car bombs detonated at a marketplace, killing 43 people and wounding 86.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said that the first two bombs exploded in quick succession at a market in the central part of town. Minutes later, a third car bomb exploded after Iraqi security forces arrived at the scene.

Khalis, a predominantly Shiite town, is 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Diyala, an ethnically and religiously mixed province, has been the scene of much violence during the Iraq war.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki condemned the Khalis "massacre," which he said was carried out by Sunni extremists called Takfiris. He called on Iraqis to "cooperate with the Iraqi security forces to purge Iraq from terrorists and criminals."

In Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Baghdad, five people were killed and 18 others were wounded in a car bombing. The explosion occurred in the parking lot of a bus station.

A roadside bomb detonated in southern Baghdad's Bayaa area, killing two civilians and wounding six others. The site is near a busy street lined with markets.

Another car bomb exploded in the southwest Baghdad neighborhood of Amil, killing four police officers and one civilian and wounding nine security force members. The explosives detonated when police went to investigate a body in the car. Police suspect insurgents planted the body to lure officers into the attack.

The Thursday attacks reflect what U.S. military officials have been saying is a recent trend -- an increase in car bombings and high-profile strikes by al Qaeda in Iraq, which is a Sunni-dominated movement.

Also Thursday, insurgents attempted to shoot Baghdad's head of traffic police in the capital's northern neighborhood of Qahira. Two guards were killed and two others were wounded.

A suicide car bomb struck an Iraqi army checkpoint in western Baghdad's Jamia Sunni district, killing three Iraqi soldiers and wounding 12 others.

Additionally, Iraqi police found 25 bullet-riddled bodies across the capital.

Meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition troops killed four insurgents during a raid in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the U.S. military said.

"Ground forces entered a targeted building and were fired upon by four armed men. Ground forces returned fire, killing the armed terrorists," the military said. Two people were detained in the operation.

Other raids netted nine detainees in Baghdad, two northwest of Haditha in Anbar province and two others south of Falluja, west of the capital.

In Baghdad, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, was sworn in Thursday.

Crocker, who had been the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, replaces Zalmay Khalilzad, who is expected to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

"We have a historic challenge ahead of us," Crocker said. "Terrorists, insurgents and militias continue to threaten security in Baghdad and around the country. Security is without question the central issue."

CNN's Yousif Bassil and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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