Car bomb kills 15 in southern Shiite area in Iraq

BAGHDAD – A car bomb ripped through a market district Wednesday in a mainly Shiite area in southern Iraq, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens, officials said.

The blast is the latest in a series of high-profile explosions that have raised concerns about a resurgence of violence as the U.S. military faces a June 30 deadline to withdraw from urban areas in Iraq.

The explosives-laden car was parked in the center of the commercial area in the town of Bathaa when it blew up about 9 a.m., according to the officials.

The officials gave the death toll on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information to media. They say at least 30 people were wounded.

The town is near Nasiriyah, about 200 miles 320 kilometers southeast of Baghdad.

The area has been the site of past violence — mainly fierce internal fighting between Shiite militia factions before a cease-fire took hold.

Also, a Nov. 12, 2003, bombing struck the military barracks of the Italian forces who were stationed in the area at the time, killing at least 19 Italians.

Dhi Qar province, of which Nasiriyah is the administrative capital, was the second province to be transferred from U.S.-led coalition control to the Iraqis in September 2006.

A black panther cub is seen in the grass at the Tierpark zoo in Berlin. AP Photo/Maya Hitij