Baghdad: Two mentally disabled women were strapped with explosives Friday and sent into busy Baghdad markets, where they were blown up by remote control, a top Iraqi government official said.
The bombs killed at least 98 people and wounded more than 200 at two popular pet markets on the holiest day of the week for Muslims, authorities said.
In both bombings, the attackers were mentally disabled women whose explosive belts were remotely detonated, Gen. Qasim Atta, spokesman for Baghdad's security plan, told state television.
An aide to Atta said that people referred to the bomber at central Baghdad's al-Ghazl market as the "crazy woman" and that the bomber at a second market had an unspecified birth disability. Watch how bombers target large crowds »
The nationalities and identities of the women have not been released. The US military blamed the bombings on al Qaeda in Iraq.
"By targeting innocent Iraqis they show their true demonic character," said Lt Col Steve Stover, spokesman for the Multi-National Division-Baghdad.
"They care nothing for the Iraqi people. They want to subjugate them and forcefully create a greater Islamic sharia state," he said, referring to Islamic law.
One bomb blew up at al-Ghazl animal market around 10:30 a.m., killing 69 and wounding more than 140. The second blast happened about a half-hour later in the New Baghdad neighborhood pet market, killing 29 people and wounding 67.
Al-Ghazl pet market is a popular destination where people buy and sell cats, dogs, monkeys and other animals. Attackers have struck the market on Fridays -- its busiest day -- several times in the last year or so.
A January 2007 bombing killed 15 and wounded 52 at the pet market, and 13 people died and 58 were wounded in a November attack.
The violence, the bloodiest series of attacks in the capital since August, broke a brief stretch of relative calm as attacks and deaths dropped at the time of the 2007 increase in U.S. troop strength known as the surge.
On Thursday, a parked car exploded in a predominantly Shiite district in the Iraqi capital, killing five civilians and wounding eight others, the Interior Ministry said.
The attack occurred after a string of roadside bombings that wounded 21 people, ministry said. In one, a bomb near the deputy minister of electricity's convoy wounded at least five people.
Also Thursday, a spokesman for the Polish military said Poland will withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of October. October 31 will be the last day of the Polish presence in Iraq, Maj. Dariusz Kacperczyk said in Warsaw.
New Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has promised to bring troops home from Iraq, where the country has been one of the larger contingents apart from the United States and Britain.
About 900 Polish troops are in Iraq, with most in Diwaniya, some in Baghdad and others in the southern city of Kut. Twenty-two soldiers from Poland have died during the nearly 5-year war in Iraq.