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Iraq: Deadly Baghdad blast was not intentional, say security sources

Army said driver died when explosives he was transporting in a car detonated at a busy second-hand equipment market
Security officials have reported previous incidents of accidental detonations of explosives in the possession of various Shia armed factions (AFP)

Security sources say an explosion on Thursday in the Sadr City neighbourhood of Baghdad in which at least one person died and several people were wounded was not intentional.

The army said a man died in the blast when explosives he was transporting in a vehicle detonated at a busy second-hand equipment market in the mainly Shia district, police said.

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A military statement said the blast had killed one civilian, wounded 12 others and set several vehicles on fire. 

A second statement by the military said only one person, the driver, had died. 

Medics in Sadr City put the death toll at four.

"According to the investigation, the owner of the vehicle was transporting explosives on behalf of an armed group," a security source told AFP.

Security officials have reported previous incidents of accidental detonations of explosives in the possession of various Shia armed factions.

Several charred cars

An AFP photographer in Sadr City saw burned motorbikes and several charred cars.

Black smoke rose from the market place after the blast and ambulances rushed to save the wounded, Reuters witnesses said. 

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Police cordoned off the site of the blast shortly afterwards.

Large bomb attacks, once an almost daily occurrence in the Iraqi capital, have halted in recent years since Islamic State (IS) fighters were defeated in 2017, part of an overall improvement in security that has brought normal life back to Baghdad.

A suicide attack claimed by IS which killed at least 32 people in a crowded market in January was the most deadly in three years.

Elsewhere, Wednesday night saw the latest attack on US forces in Iraq, as a drone dropped explosives on a base at Erbil airport in the north which hosts US troops, resulting in no reported casualties but raising tensions.

A separate rocket attack also killed a Turkish soldier at a military base nearby.