“Explosives loaded in three shopping carts killed 21 people and wounded 107 at the Shurt al-Raba market,” AFP quoted an interior ministry official as saying on Thursday
The official added that the attack happened at 6:45 p.m. (15:45 GMT) when the area was crowded with shoppers.
The bombs in southwestern Baghdad went off shortly after 7 p.m. Thursday in quick succession. One targeted a Shiite mosque, another exploded just outside a popular market, while the third went off inside the market where people were doing their evening shopping ahead of the Muslim weekend, Iraqi police officials said.
Most of the fatal victims were police officers, according to officials.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Wahabi extremists such as al-Qaida in Iraq generally tend to target Shiite mosques and neighborhoods
The violence underscored the fragile nature of the security gains in Iraq at a time when American forces are preparing to withdraw by the end of this year and the challenges facing the State Department personnel and American contractors who would continue on after the U.S. military is gone.
Also on Thursday, an American contractor with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Iraq was killed and three civilians, including another US citizen, were wounded in a bomb attack in Baghdad.
Reports show that bombings have been on the rise in Iraq since the beginning of 2011 and violent incidents averaged more than 10 a day in May, up from four to five a day in January.
On Tuesday, 25 people were killed and 30 injured when two car bombs exploded outside the residence of a local governor in central Iraq.
At least seven Iraqis were injured in an attack on a French embassy convoy in Baghdad on Monday.
Local security forces and provincial government officials in Iraq have been the target of attacks in recent months as US troops prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of this year.
Over one million Iraqis have died since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the California-based media research group, Project Censored.