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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Baghdad Car Bombing Kills 28

BAGHDAD -- A suicide car bomber shattered a relative lull in Baghdad's violence Monday, killing at least 28 people in a blast that touched off raging fires and a blizzard of bloodstained paper from a popular book market.

It was the largest bombing in the capital in three days, and came on the heels of a major push by nearly 1,200 U.S. and Iraqi troops into Sadr City, a Shiite militia stronghold and base for fighters loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Iraqi troops in Sadr City set up checkpoints and took a far more visible presence than the U.S. troops, who led the push into the area Sunday. The move was an apparent attempt to avoid Shiite anger in a place of past street battles with U.S. forces.

But pressure on Sadr and his al-Mahdi Army militia continued on other fronts.

In the southern city of Karbala, the home of an al-Mahdi Army leader was raided in a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation, the U.S. military said.

Sadr's followers also warned the Iraqi government that they would not relinquish Cabinet posts unless other members of the ruling coalition did the same -- setting the stage for a major political battle as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki prepares to reshuffle his administration.

Black smoke drifted over central Baghdad from burning shops, cars and book stalls in the mixed Sunni-Shiite area along the Tigris River. At least 66 people were wounded in the suicide blast, and the death toll could rise, police said.

"Papers from the book market were floating through the air like leaflets dropped from a plane," said Naeem al-Daraji, an Iraqi Health Ministry worker who was driving about 200 meters from the blast and was slightly injured by broken glass.

"Pieces of flesh and the remains of books were scattered everywhere," he said.

People began driving the injured to hospitals in private cars without waiting for ambulances to arrive.

A worker at a nearby shoe store, Youssef Haider, 24, said the blast flipped burning cars with charred bodies trapped inside. He and co-workers used two-wheel pushcarts used to carry away the wounded.

Sporadic car bombs and attacks have hit the capital in recent days, but none with mass casualties since a blast Friday killed at least 10 people.