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Explosion Rips Through Baghdad Market

An early-morning explosion at a Baghdad vegetable market killed four people and wounded 13 in the second attack at the same market in just over two weeks. Despite Monday's bloodshed, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said that civilian deaths were down dramatically in May, after a bloody April.

Iraqi police said that a bomb, hidden near the front gate of the Rasheed market in the Dora district of Baghdad, went off as trucks loaded with fruits and vegetables were waiting to enter the market to unload.

The explosion was the second at the same market in 10 days. Vegetable sellers mulled around the scene of the explosion in its aftermath, looking dazed and in disbelief.

A middle-aged man who works at the market complained that it made no sense to him why anyone would put a bomb in a crowded vegetable market:

He said that all the traders and sellers were going about their business when the explosion took place.

"You can see what happened. People were wounded and people died, but what is the point? There were no Americans, here, no Iraqi soldiers," he said.

An eyewitness who owns a shop inside the market also told reporters that he heard a loud explosion, with a ball of fire and clouds of smoke in its aftermath.

Many of the victims were trapped inside their cars and trucks when the explosion occurred. Workers at the market reportedly doused the flames, pulling drivers from their burning vehicles.

Elsewhere, a suicide-bomber in the town of Jalula blew himself up after being stopped at a police checkpoint. Only the bomber was killed.

In the restive northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a grenade was also thrown at a U.S. patrol, reportedly missing the U.S. soldiers, but killing a number of Iraqi civilians.

Monday's violence followed a report by the Iraqi government, Sunday, that casualties for the month of May dropped to an all-time low after an extremely bloody month of April.

The report noted that 165 Iraqis were killed during May from insurgency-related violence, less than half the April casualty figure of 355.

U.S.-led forces in Iraq are set to withdraw from all Iraqi cities by June 30, in accordance with a security pact signed between the United States and the Iraqi government, last November.

The Iraqi government is under pressure to prove that it is capable of maintaining security inside the country before the June 30 U.S. pull-back.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has insisted, repeatedly, that Iraq's security forces are capable of imposing law and order. His mostly-sunni critics complain that Iraqi forces are not ready to assume the task.