A car bomb killed at least 10 people packed into a Baghdad market Wednesday as an Iraqi government spokesman praised a decrease in attacks during a new security plan in the capital.
U.S. forces killed eight suspected militants in a raid north of the city, and captured six others in separate operations around Baghdad, the military said.
The car bomb hit midmorning in Baiyaa, one of Baghdad's most popular shopping districts in a mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhood. Hours after the blast, charred clothes hung from vendors' stalls. A woman in a long black veil dragged a shopping cart behind her, empty.
Black smoke rose from the smoldering wreckage of at least four cars gutted by the explosion, and damage reached the second story of buildings nearby. Corrugated tin roofs were peeled back by the force of the blast.
Shop owner Imad Jassim ran out into the street when he heard the explosion.
"People were in a state of panic. There was a lot of blood on the ground and we helped carrying the wounded to the ambulances," Jassim said.
"The terrorists behind this massacre want to paralyze life in Baghdad by attacking markets and public crowds," he said.
At Yarmouk Hospital nearby, some of the 20 wounded were wheeled outside on gurneys attached to IV bags. The dead bodies of at least three women were shrouded by their black abayas, or traditional Islamic coverings.
The Baiyaa attack came two weeks into a joint U.S.-Iraqi plan to halt burgeoning violence in Baghdad. Iraq's spokesman for the plan, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Mousawi, praised a "remarkable decrease" in the level of violence in recent weeks.
"The level of terrorist attacks have sharply dropped," al-Mousawi said.
At least 70 militants have been killed and more than 450 arrested in Baghdad since the plan was announced Feb. 12, he said. More than 10,000 rounds of ammunition were confiscated in raids across the city, al-Mousawi added.
American troops conducted at least three raids in and around Baghdad early Wednesday, targeting al Qaeda in Iraq and locals harboring the terror group, the military said.
U.S. intelligence reports indicated that militants linked to small arms fire and rocket attacks on U.S. forces were operating northeast of Taji, a town on the northern outskirts of Baghdad, the military said in a statement.
Eight people died when American helicopters and fighter planes fired on a palm grove, and two suspects there were detained, it said. Four others were picked up in Baghdad.
In other developments: