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Blast kills at least 18 in Baghdad's Sadr City

Explosion resulted from detonation of weapons cache, interior ministry says
Sadr City is stronghold of nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (Reuters)

At least 18 people were killed and 90 wounded in an explosion in Baghdad's Sadr City district on Wednesday, an Iraqi police source said.

Photos from the scene showed a destroyed car and building as well as weeping relatives of victims.

An interior ministry spokesman said in a statement that the blast was the result of the detonation of a weapons cache and that security forces had opened an investigation.

Heavy weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades and shells belonging to an armed group had been stored in a house, Baghdad's security operations command said in a statement.

Still, Reuters news agency cited a police source as saying ammunition had been stored in a mosque and the explosion happened during its transfer from the mosque into a car parked nearby.

Earlier, state television cited a ministry spokesman describing the explosion as "a terrorist aggression on civilians" that had caused "martyrs and wounded".

Authorities did not offer an explanation for the discrepancies between the two statements, neither of which gave casualty figures.

Sadr City is a stronghold of the nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose political bloc won a 12 May parliamentary election. Parliament ordered a national recount of votes on Wednesday.

In May, two homemade bombs targeted the headquarters of the Iraqi Communist Party, which is part of Sadr's bloc.