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Death Toll Nears 100 from Bombings in 2 Baghdad Markets

Iraqi authorities have raised the death toll from Friday's suicide bombings in two popular Baghdad pet markets to 99, making it the deadliest day in the capital in several months.

Authorities say the two blasts, which occurred 20 minutes apart, were carried out by two mentally disabled women strapped with explosives set off by remote control.

The U.S military says al-Qaida in Iraq was responsible for the bombings.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday such attacks will not sidetrack Iraq's military from its goal of restoring security to the country.

Meanwhile, Mr. Maliki is in the northern city of Mosul for talks with Iraqi military officials on a planned offensive against al-Qaida fighters in the area.

Mr. Maliki announced the offensive last week following a blast in Mosul that killed up to 50 people.

The blast occurred in a building the U.S. military said had been used by al-Qaida in Iraq forces to store weapons and explosives. U.S. commanders describe Mosul as the last major urban stronghold of al-Qaida in Iraq forces.

Iraqi troops have been moving toward Mosul for what Mr. Maliki calls a "decisive" operation against the militants. Tens of thousands of coalition soldiers have been participating in operations in Iraq's northern provinces, part of a wider offensive launched last month.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.