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Triple blast at market kills 51

A triple car bombing struck a food market in a predominantly Shiite area in central Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 51 people a day after a U.S.-Iraqi raid against Sunni insurgents in a nearby neighborhood.

Three parked cars blew up nearly simultaneously as shoppers were buying fruit, vegetables, meat and other items in the busy Sadriyah district. The blasts also wounded 90 people, said police Lt. Mohammed Khayoun and hospital officials.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack, but it followed a Friday raid by Iraqi forces backed by U.S. helicopters targeting Sunni insurgents in Fadhil, less than a half-mile away.

The Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq condemned the Fadhil raid in a statement Saturday, alleging six people were killed and 13 detained.

Iraqi police said Friday that one Iraqi soldier and two civilians were killed in the fighting, and the U.S. military said 28 people were detained.

Separately, U.S. and Iraqi forces began an offensive Saturday in Baqubah, capital of Diyala province about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, where fighting has raged for a week between Sunni insurgents and police, the U.S. command said.

At least 36 suspected militants were detained, police said. Later, state-run Iraqiya television said one al-Qaida in Iraq insurgent was killed and 43 detained.

Elsewhere, a truck driving at high speed slammed into a bus stop in Wahada, 22 miles south of Baghdad, killing about 20 people, wounding 15 and crushing several cars, police said. The driver fled but was caught by witnesses and turned over to police, who said the crash did not appear to be accidental.

A U.S. Army soldier was reported killed in fighting in the volatile Anbar province on Friday, the military said.

Eight other people were killed in attacks nationwide, authorities said. Iraqi police also found at least 46 bodies of apparent victims of sectarian death squads.

Meanwhile, the last of Italy's troops in Iraq returned to Rome on Saturday, a few weeks earlier than the date promised by Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

Also Saturday:

BUSH ON RADIO: President Bush said Saturday in his radio address that he wants to hear all advice before making decisions about changes in his Iraq strategy.

SHIITE PROPOSAL: Iraqi Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who is due to meet with Bush at the White House on Monday, will ask the president to seek Iran's help in quelling violence in Iraq, officials said Saturday.