BAGHDAD - A car bomb exploded yesterday at a market south of Baghdad in a region that was once the scene of frequent attacks on Shi’ites, killing seven people and wounding 21 others, police and hospital officials said.
The bomb, inside a parked car, exploded in the town of Mahmoudiya about a half hour before the end of the day’s fasting for Ramadan, when shoppers were in the market to buy last-minute supplies for the evening meal, or iftar.
Mahmoudiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, has a sizable Shi’ite community, while the countryside around it is predominantly Sunni. Al Qaeda in Iraq was once very active in the area.
Despite the overall drop in violence in Iraq, there are persistent attacks on Shi’ite civilians that appear intended to reignite the sectarian bloodshed that nearly plunged Iraq into civil war in 2006 and 2007.
Police said the bomb exploded near a bakery in a primarily Shi’ite section of the town, setting fire to nearby buildings.
“We were preparing for the iftar when our apartment was shaken by such a heavy blast . . . that horrified and panicked our children,’’ said Riyadh Jabbar, a Mahmoudiya resident. “Each time we begin to feel safe and secure, we are awakened by the thunder of blasts.’’
The town is located on the road between Baghdad and the Shi’ite shrine cities of Karbala and Najaf, and during the height of the violence in Iraq, there were frequent attacks on Shi’ite pilgrims and others making their way along the route.