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Deadly Bomb Blast Hits Baghdad Market


A bomb blast in Baghdad Friday, killed at least 15 people at an open market. VOA's Jim Randle reports from Baghdad, the latest attack followed a pledge by the country's prime minister to crack down on all militants.

Iraqi police say the bomb tore through a popular market in central Baghdad where many kinds of animals are sold.

Witnesses said the bomb went off at mid-morning, and was disguised to look like a box of pigeons.

Late Thursday, sirens wailed, as emergency officials tried to care for the wounded after a bomb struck a mostly Shi'ite neighborhood in central Baghdad.

That attack came just hours after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki promised a U.S.-Iraq security sweep of the capital would pursue militants wherever they hide.

Separately, the U.S. military said a Marine died Friday in fighting in al-Anbar province.

The continuing violence makes security the top concern for Iraqis, but the high unemployment rate is also a problem.

Iraq has about 200 major factories that once employed more than 300,000 people. A U.S. official recently told journalists that 10 of those factories can be restarted this year, putting 11,000 people back to work.

Paul Brinkley, the deputy under secretary of defense for business transformation, says experts visited the factories to assess what needs to be done to resume operations.

"They need some working capital to get kicked off, to get their employees back to work," he said. "Some need power restored. Some backup generation capacity has to be purchased and installed."

Brinkley says some of Iraq's factories have outdated equipment, and are unlikely to be competitive in a world market. But he says a number have skilled management and modern facilities.

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